cast the first stone, to be the first to condemn or blame a wrongdoer; be hasty in one's judgment: What right has she to cast the first stone?
    leave no stone unturned, to exhaust every possibility in attempting to achieve one's goal; spare no effort: We will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to find the culprit.

Origin of stone

before 900; (noun) Middle English stan, sto(o)n, Old English stān; cognate with Dutch steen, German Stein, Old Norse steinn, Gothic stains; akin to Greek stī́a pebble, Latin stīria icicle; (v.) Middle English stanen, stonen, derivative of the noun; (adj. and adv.) Middle English, derivative of the noun
Related formsston·a·ble, stone·a·ble, adjectivestone·less, adjectivestone·less·ness, nounstone·like, adjectiveun·ston·a·ble, adjectiveun·stone·a·ble, adjective
Can be confusedboulder cobblestone granule pebble rock stone Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for cast the first stone



Oliver. born 1946, US film director and screenwriter: his films include Platoon (1986), Born on the Fourth of July (1989), JFK (1991), Nixon (1995), Alexander (2004), and World Trade Center (2006)
Sharon. born 1958, US film actress: her films include Basic Instinct (1991), Casino (1995), and Cold Creek Manor (2003)



the hard compact nonmetallic material of which rocks are madeRelated adjective: lithic
a small lump of rock; pebble
jewellery short for gemstone
  1. a piece of rock designed or shaped for some particular purpose
  2. (in combination)gravestone; millstone
  1. something that resembles a stone
  2. (in combination)hailstone
the woody central part of such fruits as the peach and plum, that contains the seed; endocarp
any similar hard part of a fruit, such as the stony seed of a date
plural stone British a unit of weight, used esp to express human body weight, equal to 14 pounds or 6.350 kilograms
Also called: granite the rounded heavy mass of granite or iron used in the game of curling
pathol a nontechnical name for calculus
printing a table with a very flat iron or stone surface upon which hot-metal pages are composed into formes; imposition table
rare (in certain games) a piece or man
  1. any of various dull grey colours
  2. (as adjective)stone paint
(modifier) relating to or made of stonea stone house
(modifier) made of stonewarea stone jar
cast a stone at cast aspersions upon
heart of stone an obdurate or unemotional nature
leave no stone unturned to do everything possible to achieve an end


(in combination) completelystone-cold; stone-dead

verb (tr)

to throw stones at, esp to kill
to remove the stones from
to furnish or provide with stones
stone the crows British and Australian slang an expression of surprise, dismay, etc
Derived Formsstonable or stoneable, adjectivestoneless, adjectivestonelessness, nounstonelike, adjective

Word Origin for stone

Old English stān; related to Old Saxon stēn, German Stein, Old Norse steinn, Gothic stains, Greek stion pebble
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for cast the first stone



Old English stan, used of common rocks, precious gems, concretions in the body, memorial stones, from Proto-Germanic *stainaz (cf. Old Norse steinn, Danish steen, Old High German and German stein, Gothic stains), from PIE *stai- "stone," also "to thicken, stiffen" (cf. Sanskrit styayate "curdles, becomes hard;" Avestan stay- "heap;" Greek stear "fat, tallow," stia, stion "pebble;" Old Church Slavonic stena "wall").

Slang sense of "testicle" is from mid-12c. The British measure of weight (usually equal to 14 pounds) is from late 14c., originally a specific stone. Stone's throw for "a short distance" is attested from 1580s. Stone Age is from 1864. To kill two birds with one stone is first attested 1650s.



c.1200, "to pelt with stones," from stone (n.). Related: Stoned; stoning.



intensifying adjective, 1935, first recorded in black slang, probably from earlier use in phrases like stone blind (late 14c., literally "blind as a stone"), stone deaf, etc., from stone (n.). Stone cold sober dates from 1937.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

cast the first stone in Medicine




The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

cast the first stone in Science



Rock, especially when used in construction.
The hard, woody inner layer (the endocarp) of a drupe such as a cherry or peach. Not in scientific use.
See calculus.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with cast the first stone

cast the first stone

Also, throw the first stone. Be quick to blame, criticize, or punish, as in She's always criticizing her colleagues, casting the first stone no matter what the circumstances. The term comes from the New Testament (John 8:7), where Jesus defends an adulteress against those who would stone her, saying “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” Also see people who live in glass houses; pot calling the kettle black.


In addition to the idioms beginning with stone

  • stone cold
  • stone deaf

also see:

  • cast in stone
  • cast the first stone
  • flat (stone) broke
  • heart of stone
  • leave no stone unturned
  • rolling stone gathers no moss
  • run into a stone wall
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.