- to subject the surface of (a thing or person) to pressure and friction, as in cleaning, smoothing, polishing, coating, massaging, or soothing: to rub a table top with wax polish; to rub the entire back area.
- to move (something) back and forth or with a rotary motion, as against or along another surface: to rub the cloth over the glass pane.
- to spread or apply (something) with pressure and friction over something else or a person: to rub lotion on her chapped hands.
- to move (two things) with pressure and friction over or back and forth over each other (often followed by together): He rubbed his hands together.
- to mark, polish, force, move, etc. (something) by pressure and friction (often followed by over, in, or into).
- to remove by pressure and friction; erase (often followed by off or out).
- to exert pressure and friction on something.
- to move with pressure against something.
- to admit of being rubbed in a specified manner: Chalk rubs off easily.
- Chiefly British. to proceed, continue in a course, or keep going with effort or difficulty (usually followed by on, along, or through): He manages to rub along.
- an act or instance of rubbing: an alcohol rub.
- something that annoys or irritates one's feelings, as a sharp criticism, a sarcastic remark, or the like: to resent rubs concerning one's character.
- an annoying experience or circumstance.
- an obstacle, impediment, or difficulty: We'd like to travel, but the rub is that we have no money.
- a rough or abraded area caused by rubbing.
- rub down,
- to smooth off, polish, or apply a coating to: to rub a chair down with sandpaper.
- to give a massage to.
- rub off on, to become transferred or communicated to by example or association: Some of his good luck must have rubbed off on me.
- rub out,
- to obliterate; erase.
- Slang.to murder: They rubbed him out before he could get to the police.
- rub it in, Informal. to emphasize or reiterate something unpleasant in order to tease or annoy: The situation was embarrassing enough without having you rub it in.
- rub salt in/into someone's wounds. salt1(def 23).
- rub the wrong way, to irritate; offend; annoy: a manner that seemed to rub everyone the wrong way.
- rub up, British Informal. to refresh one's memory of (a subject, language, etc.).
Origin of rub
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
- to apply pressure and friction to (something) with a circular or backward and forward motion
- to move (something) with pressure along, over, or against (a surface)
- to chafe or fray
- (tr) to bring into a certain condition by rubbingrub it clean
- (tr) to spread with pressure, esp in order to cause to be absorbedhe rubbed ointment into his back
- (tr) to mix (fat) into flour with the fingertips, as in making pastry
- (foll by off, out, away, etc) to remove or be removed by rubbing
- bowls (of a bowl) to be slowed or deflected by an uneven patch on the green
- (tr often foll by together) to move against each other with pressure and friction (esp in the phrases rub one's hands, often a sign of glee, anticipation, or satisfaction, and rub noses, a greeting among Inuit people)
- rub someone's nose in it informal to remind someone unkindly of his failing or error
- rub up the wrong way to arouse anger (in); annoy
- rub shoulders with or rub elbows with informal to mix with socially or associate with
- the act of rubbing
- the rub an obstacle or difficulty (esp in the phrase there's the rub)
- something that hurts the feelings or annoys; rebuke
- bowls an uneven patch in the green
- any roughness or unevenness of surface
- golfan incident of accidental interference with the ball
- informala piece of good or bad luck
Word Origin and History for rub off on
early 14c., transitive and intransitive, of uncertain origin, perhaps related to East Frisian rubben "to scratch, rub," and Low German rubbeling "rough, uneven," or similar words in Scandinavian (cf. Danish rubbe "to rub, scrub," Norwegian rubba), of uncertain origin. Related: Rubbed; rubbing.
To rub (someone) the wrong way is from 1853; probably the notion is of cats' fur. To rub noses in greeting as a sign of friendship (attested from 1822) formerly was common among Eskimos, Maoris, and some other Pacific Islanders. Rub out "obliterate" is from 1560s; underworld slang sense of "kill" is recorded from 1848, American English. Rub off "remove by rubbing" is from 1590s; meaning "have an influence" is recorded from 1959.
"act of rubbing," 1610s, from rub (v.); earlier "obstacle, inequality on ground" (1580s, common in 17c.) which is the figure in Hamlet's there's the rub (1602).
- The application of friction and pressure.
- Such a procedure applied to the body.
Idioms and Phrases with rub off on
rub off on
Become transferred to another, influence through close contact, as in We hoped some of their good manners would rub off on our children. This idiom alludes to transferring something like paint to another substance by rubbing against it. [Mid-1900s]