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[gruhb] /grʌb/
the thick-bodied, sluggish larva of several insects, as of a scarab beetle.
a dull, plodding person; drudge.
an unkempt person.
Slang. food; victuals.
any remaining roots or stumps after cutting vegetation to clear land for farming.
verb (used with object), grubbed, grubbing.
to dig; clear of roots, stumps, etc.
to dig up by the roots; uproot (often followed by up or out).
Slang. to supply with food; feed.
Slang. to scrounge:
to grub a cigarette.
verb (used without object), grubbed, grubbing.
to dig; search by or as if by digging:
We grubbed through piles of old junk to find the deed.
to lead a laborious or groveling life; drudge:
It's wonderful to have money after having to grub for so many years.
to engage in laborious study.
Slang. to eat; take food.
Origin of grub
1250-1300; Middle English grubbe (noun), grubben (v.); akin to Old High German grubilōn to dig, German grübeln to rack (the brain), Old Norse gryfia hole, pit; see grave1, groove
Related forms
grubber, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for grub
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It was really only a paraphrase of the old story of the grub and the butterfly.

    The Fortune Hunter Louis Joseph Vance
  • Them grub all gone, them Injuns mebbyso ketchum hungry belly.

    Good Indian B. M. Bower
  • Yo' all time eatum my grub, yo' no givum me money, no givum hoss, no givum notting.

    Good Indian B. M. Bower
  • Let's go back, eat the grub, and then continue the hunt for Ned.

    Frank Roscoe's Secret Allen Chapman
  • I had some hardtack and tea in my “grub bag,” and these I left with her.

    The Long Labrador Trail Dillon Wallace
  • He caught the fancy of the king, knelt down a grub, and rose a butterfly.

    Barnaby Rudge Charles Dickens
  • You'll see, he'll soon turn up, he's got a hollow nose, he can scent the grub from afar.

    L'Assommoir Emile Zola
  • He looked as if he were degenerating into the grub even before he died.

  • They asked for a wage, a bunk, and grub; nothing else mattered.

    The Night Riders Ridgwell Cullum
British Dictionary definitions for grub


verb grubs, grubbing, grubbed
when tr, often foll by up or out. to search for and pull up (roots, stumps, etc) by digging in the ground
to dig up the surface of (ground, soil, etc), esp to clear away roots, stumps, etc
(intransitive; often foll by in or among) to search carefully
(intransitive) to work unceasingly, esp at a dull task or research
(slang) to provide (a person) with food or (of a person) to take food
(transitive) (slang, mainly US) to scrounge: to grub a cigarette
the short legless larva of certain insects, esp beetles
(slang) food; victuals
a person who works hard, esp in a dull plodding way
(Brit, informal) a dirty child
Word Origin
C13: of Germanic origin; compare Old High German grubilōn to dig, German grübeln to rack one's brain, Middle Dutch grobben to scrape together; see grave³, groove
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
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Word Origin and History for grub

c.1300, from hypothetical Old English *grubbian, from West Germanic *grubbjan (cf. Middle Dutch grobben, Old High German grubilon "to dig, search," German grübeln "to meditate, ponder"), from Proto-Germanic *grub- "to dig," base of Old English grafan (see grave (v.)).


"larva," early 15c., perhaps from grub (v.) on the notion of "digging insect," or from the possibly unrelated Middle English grub "dwarfish fellow" (c.1400). Meaning "dull drudge" is 1650s. The slang sense of "food" is first recorded 1650s, said to be from birds eating grubs, but also often linked with bub "drink."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for grub



Food: goods one can exchange at the kitchen door for grub/ nonchalantly gobble up mounds of this grub (1659+)


: Come over and grub with us (Black)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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