[ ruhb-ish ]
/ ˈrʌb ɪʃ /
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worthless, unwanted material that is rejected or thrown out; debris; litter; trash.
nonsense, as in writing or art: sentimental rubbish.
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Origin of rubbish

1350–1400; Middle English rubbes, rob(b)ous< ?; cf. rubble
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What is rubbish?

Rubbish is unwanted material, such as something you throw into a waste barrel, like a banana peel.

Rubbish is also something that is considered nonsense and not worth anything, like an idea or a piece of art.

In Australia and New Zealand, rubbish can mean to criticize or verbally attack. It’s often used informally.

Example: Make sure you clean up all this rubbish before you leave tonight.

Where does rubbish come from?

The first records of the term rubbish come from around 1350. It is thought to come from the Middle English rubbes, as does rubble. Rubbish usually refers to smaller particles of trash, while rubble describes large pieces of debris, such as chunks of masonry after a building has been demolished.

When rubbish is used figuratively to criticize something, it frequently refers to text or speech, as in That article is utter rubbish. But it can also refer to a piece of media as in, That film was rubbish. Rubbish is used more commonly in the United Kingdom than in the United States or other English-speaking nations, although it is still used worldwide in moderation.

Did you know … ?

What are some other forms related to rubbish?

What are some synonyms for rubbish?

What are some words that share a root or word element with rubbish

What are some words that often get used in discussing rubbish?

How is rubbish used in real life?

Rubbish is a commonly used word to mean either trash or nonsense.



Try using rubbish!

Is rubbish used correctly in the following sentence?

These decisions the mayor keeps making are absolute rubbish.

How to use rubbish in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for rubbish

/ (ˈrʌbɪʃ) /

worthless, useless, or unwanted matter
discarded or waste matter; refuse
foolish words or speech; nonsense
(tr) informal to criticize; attack verbally

Word Origin for rubbish

C14 robys, of uncertain 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

Other Idioms and Phrases with rubbish


see good riddance (to bad rubbish).

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