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[roo-bahrb] /ˈru bɑrb/
any of several plants belonging to the genus Rheum, of the buckwheat family, as R. officinale, having a medicinal rhizome, and R. rhabarbarum, having edible leafstalks.
the rhizome of any medicinal species of this plant, forming a combined cathartic and astringent.
the edible, fleshy leafstalks of R. rhabarbarum, used in making pies, preserves, etc.
Slang. a quarrel or squabble.
Origin of rhubarb
1350-1400; Middle English rubarb, reubarb < Old French r(e)ubarbe < Medieval Latin reubarbarum < Greek rhéon bárbaron foreign rhubarb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for rhubarb
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Fruit-trees will not thrive; but black and red currants and rhubarb are grown, the last-named doing excellently.

  • Well, her ladyship is bent on making some marmalade and rhubarb jam.

    Lady Bountiful George A. Birmingham
  • The soil for rhubarb should be deep, and there is little danger of having it too rich.

  • rhubarb down at the point at the Forbes Municipal Field, but that's about all.

    The Circuit Riders R. C. FitzPatrick
  • If the other method is preferred, cook the rhubarb with the water until it is soft and then add the sugar.

    Woman's Institute Library of Cookery, Vol. 5 Woman's Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences
  • It was only to be had from the druggists as you nowadays buy an ounce of rhubarb.

    Moby Dick; or The Whale Herman Melville
  • The only things the Doctor could get at were rhubarb pills and cod-liver oil, but these, with faith, go a long way.

    The New North Agnes Deans Cameron
British Dictionary definitions for rhubarb


any of several temperate and subtropical plants of the polygonaceous genus Rheum, esp R. rhaponticum (common garden rhubarb), which has long green and red acid-tasting edible leafstalks, usually eaten sweetened and cooked
the leafstalks of this plant
a related plant, Rheum officinale, of central Asia, having a bitter-tasting underground stem that can be dried and used medicinally as a laxative or astringent
(US & Canadian, slang) a heated discussion or quarrel
the noise made by actors to simulate conversation, esp by repeating the word rhubarb at random
to simulate conversation, esp by repeating the word rhubarb at random
Word Origin
C14: from Old French reubarbe, from Medieval Latin reubarbum, probably a variant of rha barbarum barbarian rhubarb, from rha rhubarb (from Greek, perhaps from Rha ancient name of the Volga) + Latin barbarus barbarian
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 rhubarb

late 14c., from Old French rubarbe, from Medieval Latin rheubarbarum, from Greek rha barbaron "foreign rhubarb," from rha "rhubarb," perhaps ultimately from a source akin to Persian rewend "rhubarb" (associated in Greek with Rha, ancient Scythian name of the River Volga) + barbaron, neuter of barbaros "foreign" (see barbarian). Grown in China and Tibet, it was imported into ancient Europe by way of Russia.

Spelling altered in Medieval Latin by association with rheum. European native species so called from 1640s. Baseball slang meaning "loud squabble on the field" is from 1938, of unknown origin, said to have been first used by broadcaster Garry Schumacher. Perhaps connected with use of rhubarb as a word repeated by stage actors to give the impression of hubbub or conversation (attested from 1934).

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

rhubarb 1


A loud quarrel or squabble; a controversy of riotous potential, esp among baseball players on the field: beanball throwing, rhubarbs, and umpire baiting

[1938+ Baseball; origin unknown and richly speculated on; said to have been first used in a broadcast by Garry Schumacher]

rhubarb 2


A low-level aerial strafing mission (WWII Air Forces)


: flying for rhubarbing

[an arbitrary code name]

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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