[ skruhb ]
See synonyms for: scrubscrubbedscrubbingscrubs on

verb (used with object),scrubbed, scrub·bing.
  1. to rub hard with a brush, cloth, etc., or against a rough surface in washing.

  2. to subject to friction; rub.

  1. to remove (dirt, grime, etc.) from something by hard rubbing while washing.

  2. Chemistry. to remove (impurities or undesirable components) from a gas by chemical means, as sulfur dioxide from smokestack gas or carbon dioxide from exhaled air in life-support packs.

  3. to cancel or postpone (a space flight or part of a mission): Ground control scrubbed the spacewalk.

  4. Slang. to do away with; cancel: Scrub your vacation plans—there's work to do!

  5. Computers.

    • to perform routine maintenance on (data) in memory or storage with scans that detect and correct data corruption: The system is automated to scrub and archive all active records in the database.

    • to permanently erase (a hard drive, server, etc.), usually by writing over space where data had been stored and was later deleted, so that deleted data cannot be recovered: Scrub your computer’s hard drive before you sell or donate it.

    • to delete (negative or damaging online content relating to someone or something) so as to erase it from public record or social media: The marketing team scrubbed the disgraced celebrity spokesperson from their website within hours of the scandal.Before applying for jobs, I scrubbed a bunch of posts from my hard-partying past.

verb (used without object),scrubbed, scrub·bing.
  1. to cleanse something by hard rubbing.

  2. Digital Technology. to fast-forward or rewind in an audio or video file by dragging the progress marker forward or backward across the timeline bar: Scrub forward through the pregame and start playback from the kickoff.

  1. an act or instance of scrubbing.

  2. a canceled or postponed space flight, launching, scheduled part of a space mission, etc.

  1. something, as a cosmetic preparation, used for scrubbing.

  2. scrubs, a uniform, durably designed for frequent washing and sanitizing, usually consisting of pants and a loose-fitting top, worn by doctors, nurses, and other medical staff, especially during surgery: surgical scrubs;nursing scrubs.

Verb Phrases
  1. scrub in / up to cleanse one's hands and arms as a preparation to performing or assisting in surgery.

Origin of scrub

First recorded in 1300–50; of uncertain origin; Middle English verb scrobben, shrubben, borrowed from or related to Middle Dutch, Middle Low German schrobben “to scrub, scrape”

Other words from scrub

  • scrub·ba·ble, adjective
  • non·scrub·ba·ble, adjective

Words Nearby scrub

Other definitions for scrub (2 of 2)

[ skruhb ]

  1. low trees or shrubs collectively.

  2. a large area covered with low trees and shrubs, as the Australian bush.

  1. a domestic animal of mixed or inferior breeding; mongrel.

  2. a small or insignificant person.

  3. anything undersized or inferior.

  4. Sports. a player not belonging to the varsity or regular team; a player who is not first-string.

  1. small, undersized, or stunted.

  2. inferior or insignificant.

  1. abounding in or covered with low trees and shrubs: They rode through scrub country.

Origin of scrub

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English shrub(be), shrob(be), Old English scrybb; see shrub1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use scrub in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for scrub (1 of 2)


/ (skrʌb) /

verbscrubs, scrubbing or scrubbed
  1. to rub (a surface) hard, with or as if with a brush, soap, and water, in order to clean it

  2. to remove (dirt), esp by rubbing with a brush and water

  1. (intr foll by up) (of a surgeon) to wash the hands and arms thoroughly before operating

  2. (tr) to purify (a vapour or gas) by removing impurities

  3. (tr) informal to delete or cancel

  4. (intr) horse racing slang (of jockeys) to urge a horse forwards by moving the arms and whip rhythmically forwards and backwards alongside its neck

  1. the act of or an instance of scrubbing

Origin of scrub

C14: from Middle Low German schrubben, or Middle Dutch schrobben

British Dictionary definitions for scrub (2 of 2)


/ (skrʌb) /

    • vegetation consisting of stunted trees, bushes, and other plants growing in an arid area

    • (as modifier): scrub vegetation

  1. an area of arid land covered with such vegetation

    • an animal of inferior breeding or condition

    • (as modifier): a scrub bull

  1. a small or insignificant person

  2. anything stunted or inferior

  3. sport, US and Canadian a player not in the first team

  4. the scrub Australian informal a remote place, esp one where contact with people can be avoided

  1. small, stunted, or inferior

  2. sport, US and Canadian

    • (of a player) not in the first team

    • (of a team) composed of such players

    • (of a contest) between scratch or incomplete teams

Origin of scrub

C16: variation of shrub 1

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