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Blech. These are the grossest words.


[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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for grubs
Historical Examples
  • And when he destroys the smaller fry, the slugs and grubs and aphides multiply and devour his lettuces and roses.

    Feminism and Sex-Extinction Arabella Kenealy
  • The grubs rarely exceed three-quarters of an inch in length.

    Our Common Insects Alpheus Spring Packard
  • The grubs attack it without hesitation and consume it with every appearance of the usual appetite.

    More Hunting Wasps J. Henri Fabre
  • Why wasn't she out scampering and running all the time, and hunting for grubs?

    A Young Mutineer Mrs. L. T. Meade
  • Well, I see nothing else to explain the action of the Volucella's grubs when they dip into the cells without wounding the larvae.

    The Life of the Fly J. Henri Fabre
  • Down falls the lark like a stone; it is time he looked for grubs.

    The Violin George Hart
  • I have been experimenting all along with big Volucella grubs, colored with the dirty red which comes with age.

    The Life of the Fly J. Henri Fabre
  • These bolls will not drop, but the grubs ruin the cotton they contain.

  • Milty Boulter said if it wasn't the moon's fault it must be grubs.

    Anne Of Avonlea Lucy Maud Montgomery
  • A starling's range of ideas may be summed up in the word "grubs."

    Wild Nature Won By Kindness Elizabeth Brightwen
British Dictionary definitions for grubs


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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Contemporary definitions for grubs

See grubbies's 21st Century Lexicon
Copyright © 2003-2014, LLC
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Word Origin and History for grubs



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 grubs



Older, worn-out clothes, esp worn for hanging out or doing dirty work: Wear grubbies for the archaeology dig



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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