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From Middle English stonwal, from Old English stānweall, equivalent to stone +‎ wall. The alcoholic drink was perhaps named because its effect was as potent as running into a stone wall.[1]



stonewall (plural stonewalls)

  1. A refusal to cooperate.
  2. (historical) An alcoholic drink, popular in colonial America, consisting of apple cider (or sometimes applejack) mixed with rum (or sometimes gin or whisky).
    • 2014, John J. Duffy; ‎H. Nicholas Muller, III; Inventing Ethan Allen ISBN 1611685559:
      As if quoting from a house menu of early American alcoholic drinks, rather than reporting an eyewitness account, this version tells us they "guzzled nobly of punch, of flip, and downed the inevitable stonewalls [a mixture of whiskey or rum and cider]."
    • 2015, Susanne Schmid, ‎Barbara Schmidt-Haberkamp (editors), Drink in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries ISBN 1317318935:
      When members of the Continental Congress met in Philadelphia's City Tavern, they [...] ordered, one must assume, a broad variety of drinks, such as the mimbo (shavings from a sugarloaf, rum and water), the sling (two parts water to one part rum), the bombo (which uses molasses instead of sugar, rum and water), the punch, or the calibogus (spruce beer and rum), a flip, a blackstrap (a mix with molasses), or a stonewall (a mix with cider).
  3. Alternative spelling of stone wall (wall made of stone)
    • 1906, Annual Reports of the War Department, page 312:
      Stonewalls have been rebuilt along the piked portion of Taneytown road, along the east end of North Confederate avenue, and along Taneytown road south of Pleasonton avenue.
    • 2010, Derek Pomeroy Brereton, Campsteading, page 225:
      In the present day, New England's stonewalls are the lineaments of her former agrarian vitality.
    • 2011, Jack Mitchell, Angels of the Anasazi, page 140:
      Some had suggested that they build sloped stonewalls the entire length of the streambed. The stonewalls would keep the rushing water in a channel and prevent soil from washing away from the streambed walls.
    • 2012, Walter G. Robillard and Lane J. Bouman, Clark on Surveying and Boundaries, [1]:
      There are remnants of a stonewall at the elm tree on Burrough Road. The aerial photograph shows the existence of a stonewall at the elm tree at least in 1964.


stonewall (third-person singular simple present stonewalls, present participle stonewalling, simple past and past participle stonewalled)

  1. (informal) To refuse to answer or cooperate, especially in supplying information.
    At the press conference, the Prime Minister appeared to be stonewalling when asked about tax increases.

Derived termsEdit



stonewall (not comparable)

  1. (Britain, idiomatic) Certain, stone cold.
    • Martin Smith, Daily Telegraph, 19 February 2007:
      Fortune favoured the fortunate when Martin Atkinson ignored a stonewall penalty.
    • Gordon Parks, Daily Record, 13 January 2011:
      Lennon also pointed to a booking for Niall McGinn for diving as a stonewall penalty to add to his grievances.

Usage notesEdit

  • Most often encountered in sports, in reference to refereeing decisions; apparently a corruption of "stone cold".



  1. ^ Christine Sismondo, America Walks into a Bar: A Spirited History of Taverns and Saloons ISBN 0199753164, 2011)