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

1300–50; 1860–65 for def 18b; Middle English rubben (v.); cognate with Frisian rubben, Danish rubbe, Swedish rubba
Related formsun·rubbed, adjectivewell-rubbed, adjective

Synonyms for rub Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for rub off

rub off


to remove or be removed by rubbing
(intr ; often foll by on or onto) to have an effect through close association or contact, esp so as to make similarher crude manners have rubbed off on you

noun rub-off

a resulting effect on something else; consequencesa positive rub-off


verb rubs, rubbing or rubbed

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
  1. golfan incident of accidental interference with the ball
  2. informala piece of good or bad luck

Word Origin for rub

C15: perhaps from Low German rubben, of obscure origin
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 rub off



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).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for rub off




The application of friction and pressure.
Such a procedure applied to the body.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with rub off


In addition to the idioms beginning with rub

  • rub down
  • rub elbows with
  • rub in
  • rub off on
  • rub one's hands
  • rub out
  • rub someone's nose in it
  • rub the wrong way
  • rub up on

also see:

  • the rub
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.