What does "rock" mean in the phrase, "A bevy of rock lovelies"? This was taken from Google's definition of "lovely" as a noun, which in turn seems to come from some dictionary by Oxford, such as the The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English:

n. (pl. -lies) inf. a glamorous woman or girl: a bevy of rock lovelies.

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    Honestly I can't find this collocation anywhere except in the dictionary and sites discussing or using the dictionary definition. Someone named their tumblr after it, but clearly that's still a derivative of dictionary quotation. I checked both Google Books and nGrams, as well as the COCA corpus, and got exactly zero hits for "rock lovelies". So the short story is no one knows what it means, except the original author of the quote the dictionary cited as an example. We could guess, such as "women who like rock [and roll music]", or some bathing beauties lounging on some rocks out on the beach – Dan Bron Jun 8 '16 at 20:46
  • Does Oxford have the freedom to make axiomatic examples or are they supposed to use the real world? – 12345678910111213 Jun 8 '16 at 20:53
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    I mean it's their dictionary, they can do what they like, but their standard protocol is to use real-world examples. That's how they derive a word's definition in the first place: by collecting examples. If they simply made up examples, what would be the point? You do raise a good idea though: you could email them and ask if they still know the original source for that quote. – Dan Bron Jun 8 '16 at 20:55

In this context "rock lovelies" almost certainly means attractive female rock(-and-roll) musicians (or possibly attractive female hangers-on of rock musicians), so "rock" is just the adjective meaning something like "relating to rock-and-roll music".

I take it the Oxford Pocket Dictionary was meant to be a pared-down alternative to the Oxford Dictionary of English and the Oxford English Dictionary, squeezing as much information into as small a space as possible. The extended definition for this sense of lovelies given in the OED, 2nd Ed., is

3.a. absol. or sb. Now usu. a woman or girl of glamorous loveliness, esp. one who takes part in an entertainment or 'show'.

The OPD has apparently chosen to convey the emphasis on an entertainment/show connotation through use of an example of a common type of entertainment/show, but unfortunately chose an example that is not actually in common usage and that is therefore ambiguous.

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  • Oxford, or any dictionary, should put these examples in context, not set new precedents. They may be taking an active role in evolving English as opposed to cataloging the evolutionary process. – 12345678910111213 Jun 8 '16 at 23:33
  • @mattkaeo, the OED and Oxford Dictionaries Online make extensive use of real-world, cited quotations, listing several for each usage. But the OED takes fully two whole library shelves; it's not something you can carry around in your coat pocket. I haven't seen the Pocket Oxford, but my guess is that it limits itself to one, "made up" example due to space constraints--this would save space by (theoretically) using one example to get across all the desired nuances, and by allowing them to omit citation information. – 1006a Jun 9 '16 at 19:52

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