verb (used with object), scrubbed, scrub·bing.
verb (used without object), scrubbed, scrub·bing.
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Origin of scrub1
OTHER WORDS FROM scrubscrub·ba·ble, adjectivenon·scrub·ba·ble, adjective
Words nearby scrub
Definition for scrub (2 of 2)
Origin of scrub2
ABOUT THIS WORD
What else does scrub mean?
Scrub is slang for someone who is just plain bad at something—a no-talent hack. This could be in sports, video games, or thanks to TLC’s hit song, relationships.
Where does scrub come from?
Scrub has been slang for an “insignificant or contemptible person” since the 1500s. Over the centuries, the term was used as a slur to denigrate prostitutes and even Black people for a time. In the late 1800s, scrub was being used by athletes to deride inferior opponents. The term derives from a form of shrub.
In the 1990s, R&B girl group, TLC, helped make scrub a household term seemingly every woman in the 2000s used to describe broke guys. On the chorus of their 1999 track “No Scrubs,” TLC bops: “No, I don’t want no scrubs / A scrub is a guy that can’t get no love from me / Hangin’ out the passenger side of his best friend’s ride / Trying to holla at me.”
Scrub spread to video game culture in the 2010s, seeing heavy use on Steam, GameFAQs, and Reddit. Early on, it was especially used in fighting game communities for a poor or new player, (noob) but it since has expanded into other genres.
How is scrub used in real life?
Scrub is a general insult for someone who is bad at something. It can be applied in a range of contexts, from sports to video games to dating. Regarding the latter, a scrub usually refers to a man, though women aren’t exempt from the “lowlife” insult.
More examples of scrub:
“[Tristan] Thompson has never been an elite player, but ever since he started dated Khloe, his performances have really gone downhill. He’s not the great offensive rebounder he once was, and is looking more and more like an overpaid scrub.”
—Nemanja Vukasinovic, Fadeaway World, August 2018
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 scrub
Do as Tumblr has done and scrub her last words off the Internet—erase everything she wanted the world to hear.Cover-Ups and Concern Trolls: Actually, It's About Ethics in Suicide Journalism|Arthur Chu|January 3, 2015|DAILY BEAST
Havens is optimistic that if PHA beads could be used successfully in cosmetics without losing their ability to scrub.
It depicts an exhausted Texas oil field on scrub land, an old railroad bed and a watery ditch converging in the distance.Rackstraw Downes’s Art and Essays Are Two Sides of the Same Genius|Bill Morris|June 4, 2014|DAILY BEAST
The newest edition adapts the same principles to the digital age and urges kids to scrub their Facebook pages.How to Reinvent College Rankings: Show the Data Students Need Most|Steve Cohen|March 24, 2013|DAILY BEAST
The contamination was ultimately traced back to a scrub technician named Kristen Parker.Doctor Accused of Infecting Patients With Hepatitis C Breaks Silence|Carol McKinley|February 22, 2013|DAILY BEAST
With his besom he began to scrub the refuse out of every corner.Aspects and Impressions|Edmund Gosse
At Zanatepec on July 13, 1956, males were calling from a flooded field bordered by scrub forest.A Distributional Study of the Amphibians of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Mexico|William E. Duellman
Johnny Kline, as captain of the scrub, bent every energy to beating the regulars, and pitched as he had never done before.Fast Nine|Alan Douglas
Its naturally rich fields were grown up to scrub pines, mugworts and wormwood.Three Years in the Sixth Corps|George T. Stevens
Kerr asked him to let Tom pitch, but Langridge refused arrogantly and with bitter words against the scrub twirler.The Rival Pitchers|Lester Chadwick
British Dictionary definitions for scrub (1 of 2)
verb scrubs, scrubbing or scrubbed
Word Origin for scrub
British Dictionary definitions for scrub (2 of 2)
- vegetation consisting of stunted trees, bushes, and other plants growing in an arid area
- (as modifier)scrub vegetation
- an animal of inferior breeding or condition
- (as modifier)a scrub bull
- (of a player) not in the first team
- (of a team) composed of such players
- (of a contest) between scratch or incomplete teams