verb (used without object)

to look about or stare with great curiosity, as by craning the neck or turning the head.

verb (used with object)

to gawk at: The tieup was due to drivers rubbernecking an accident.

noun Also rub·ber·neck·er.

a sightseer; tourist.
an extremely curious person.

Origin of rubberneck

An Americanism dating back to 1895–1900; rubber1 + neck Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for rubberneck

Historical Examples of rubberneck

  • The Rubberneck coach lingered, out of respect for its patrons.

  • The paid guides and the "rubberneck wagons" have completed the ruin.

  • Women ought to have everything they own fastened to them with rubberneck elastics.

    The Climbers

    Clyde Fitch

  • The most popular slang expression of the day is "to rubberneck," or, more concisely, "to rubber."

  • Drivers of passing cars slowed down to rubberneck, and a few shouted filthy, vengeful things at them.


    Cory Doctorow

British Dictionary definitions for rubberneck



a person who stares or gapes inquisitively, esp in a naive or foolish manner
a sightseer or tourist


(intr) to stare in a naive or foolish manner
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 rubberneck

1897, "person who is always listening to other people's conversation; person who gazes around him with undue curiosity," from rubber + neck (n.). Popularized with reference to sightseers in automobiles. As a verb from 1896. Related: Rubbernecking (1896); rubbernecker (1934).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper