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bed +‎ rock


bedrock (countable and uncountable, plural bedrocks)

  1. (uncountable, geology, mining, engineering, construction) The solid rock that exists at some depth below the ground surface. Bedrock is rock "in place", as opposed to material that has been transported from another location by weathering and erosion.
    • 1880, Mark Twain [pseudonym; Samuel Langhorne Clemens], chapter XL, in A Tramp Abroad; [], Hartford, Conn.: American Publishing Company; London: Chatto & Windus, →OCLC:
      The denudation of the land was upon a grand scale. All superficial accumulations were swept away, and the bedrock was exposed.
    • 1912 October, Jack London, “The Stampede to Squaw Creek”, in Smoke Bellew, New York, N.Y.: The Century Co, →OCLC:
      Listen! It's big. Only eight to twenty feet to bedrock. There won't be a claim that don't run to half a million.
  2. (figuratively) A basis or foundation.
    If culture is the bedrock of a society, then language is the cornerstone of culture.
    • 1918, H[enry] Rider Haggard, chapter VIII, in Love Eternal[1]:
      Now, although like most young people, Godfrey was indolent and evasive of difficulties, fearful of facing troubles also, he had a bedrock of character.
    • 2012 October 23, David Leonhardt, “Standard of Living Is in the Shadows as Election Issue”, in New York Times[2], retrieved October 24, 2012:
      Many of the bedrock assumptions of American culture — about work, progress, fairness and optimism — are being shaken as successive generations worry about the prospect of declining living standards.
    • 2021 October 25, Mike Isaac, “Facebook Wrestles With the Features It Used to Define Social Networking”, in The New York Times[3], →ISSN:
      The research on the Like button was an example of how Facebook has questioned the bedrock features of social networking.
    • 2023 April 5, Philip Haigh, “Comment: Pay deal a positive result”, in RAIL, number 980, page 3:
      Above all, rail needs to be boring. By that, I mean that it must run its timetable reliably, day-in and day-out. Punctuality and reliability remain the bedrock of a successful railway.

Usage notes[edit]

In mountainous regions, bedrock can be seen at the surface. However, these occurrences are more properly called outcrops. In construction and engineering, it is often desired to place foundations on bedrock in order to improve the stability of a structure.


Derived terms[edit]



bedrock (third-person singular simple present bedrocks, present participle bedrocking, simple past and past participle bedrocked)

  1. (transitive, figuratively) To establish on a solid foundation.
    • 2011, Allen Tullos, Alabama Getaway: The Political Imaginary and the Heart of Dixie, page 128:
      Bedrocked in the formative race relations of the Heart of Dixie, the governor declined an invitation to the unveiling of artist Maya Lin's civil rights memorial in downtown Montgomery.