verb (used with object), rubbed, rub·bing.
verb (used without object), rubbed, rub·bing.
- to smooth off, polish, or apply a coating to: to rub a chair down with sandpaper.
- to give a massage to.
- to obliterate; erase.
- Slang. to murder: They rubbed him out before he could get to the police.
- ru 486,
- rub al khali,
- rub along,
- rub down,
- rub elbows with,
- rub in
Origin of rub
verb rubs, rubbing or rubbed
- golf an incident of accidental interference with the ball
- informal a piece of good or bad luck
Word Origin for rub
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).
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]
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
- the rub