rubber band


noun

a narrow, circular or oblong band of rubber, used for holding things together, as papers or a box and its lid.

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Origin of rubber band

First recorded in 1890–95
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

ABOUT THIS WORD

What else does rubber band mean?

The handy, dandy rubber band, useful for flinging at people and holding together important things, like stacks of cash money, as rubber bands refer to in hip-hop slang.

Rubber bands also come up in fashion contexts, from bracelets and hairstyles, and a common complaint for those who have to use special ones for orthodontic braces.

Where does rubber band come from?

A quick history lesson: The rubber band was invented in the 1840s by the company Messers Perry and Co, originally made of vulcanized rubber.

Rubber bands help us hold all sorts of things together. But, in hip-hop slang, rubber bands is used in slang expression for lots of money (i.e., large stacks of bills held together by a rubber band). A number of songs talk about rubber bands, including T.I.’s 2003 “Rubber Band Man,” Wiz Khalifa’s 2007 “Poppin’ Rubber Bands,” and Brooke Candy’s 2015 “Rubber Band Stacks.” All of these songs feature rubber bands as boasts about their wealth and success more generally.

In 2018, Cardi B helped popularize the expression poppin’ rubber bands when she rapped it on Bruno Mars’s song “Finesse”: “I went from dollar bills, now we poppin’ rubber bands.” The image is that she’s earned so much money from her small-bills that they make rubber bands pop, unable to hold the stack together.

Rubber bands, in the form of bendy bracelets, were also part of a moral panic in the 2000s. Some parents thought teenagers were wearing sex bands, or colorful bracelets that resembled rubber bands, to signify what sexual acts they were willing to do with others. But this was an urban legend, the colorful wrist-wear was just a fashion statement.

How is rubber band used in real life?

The term and object, rubber band, sees wide uses from office spaces to classrooms to wearing braces and styling hair.

As for the hip-hop slang, rubber bands often appears in the expression poppin’ rubber bands, or earning/spending a lot of money or feeling classy, sexy, and successful more generally.

More examples of rubber band:

“The cool thing about rubber bands it that they are mostly like an ideal spring—but not exactly. Both springs and rubber bands have a special property: It takes more force to stretch them the farther you pull.”
—Rhett Allain, Wired, March 2018

Note

This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.

Example sentences from the Web for rubber band

British Dictionary definitions for rubber band

rubber band

noun

a continuous loop of thin rubber, used to hold papers, etc, togetherAlso called: elastic band
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