verb (used with object), scrubbed, scrub·bing.

verb (used without object), scrubbed, scrub·bing.

to cleanse something by hard rubbing.
to cleanse one's hands and arms as a preparation to performing or assisting in surgery (often followed by up).


Nearby words

  1. scrounge,
  2. scrounge around,
  3. scrounge up,
  4. scroungy,
  5. scrovegni chapel,
  6. scrub bird,
  7. scrub brush,
  8. scrub fowl,
  9. scrub jay,
  10. scrub nurse

Origin of scrub

1300–50; Middle English scrobben (noun) < Middle Dutch schrobben

Related formsscrub·ba·ble, adjectivenon·scrub·ba·ble, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for scrubbable



verb scrubs, scrubbing or scrubbed

to rub (a surface) hard, with or as if with a brush, soap, and water, in order to clean it
to remove (dirt), esp by rubbing with a brush and water
(intr foll by up) (of a surgeon) to wash the hands and arms thoroughly before operating
(tr) to purify (a vapour or gas) by removing impurities
(tr) informal to delete or cancel
(intr) horse racing slang (of jockeys) to urge a horse forwards by moving the arms and whip rhythmically forwards and backwards alongside its neck


the act of or an instance of scrubbing
See also scrub round

Word Origin for scrub

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




  1. vegetation consisting of stunted trees, bushes, and other plants growing in an arid area
  2. (as modifier)scrub vegetation
an area of arid land covered with such vegetation
  1. an animal of inferior breeding or condition
  2. (as modifier)a scrub bull
a small or insignificant person
anything stunted or inferior
sport, US and Canadian a player not in the first team
the scrub Australian informal a remote place, esp one where contact with people can be avoided


small, stunted, or inferior
sport, US and Canadian
  1. (of a player) not in the first team
  2. (of a team) composed of such players
  3. (of a contest) between scratch or incomplete teams

Word Origin for 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

Word Origin and History for scrubbable
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper