verb (used with object), grubbed, grub·bing.

verb (used without object), grubbed, grub·bing.

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 formsgrub·ber, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for grub

Contemporary Examples of grub

Historical Examples of grub

  • 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.

  • I had some hardtack and tea in my “grub bag,” and these I left with her.

British Dictionary definitions for grub


verb grubs, grubbing or 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
(intr; often foll by in or among) to search carefully
(intr) to work unceasingly, esp at a dull task or research
slang to provide (a person) with food or (of a person) to take food
(tr) slang, mainly US to scroungeto 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
British informal a dirty child

Word Origin for grub

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 grave ³, 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

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