Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To apply pressure and friction to (a surface).
  • transitive v. To clean, polish, or manipulate by the application of pressure and friction.
  • transitive v. To apply to a surface firmly and with friction: rub lotion on the hands; rub dye into the fabric.
  • transitive v. To move (an object or objects) firmly along a surface, especially repeatedly: rub an eraser over the blackboard; rubbed my fingers over the sore spot.
  • transitive v. To cause to become worn, chafed, or irritated.
  • transitive v. To remove, erase, or expunge: rub away a stain; rubbed the sleep from my eyes.
  • intransitive v. To exert pressure or friction on something.
  • intransitive v. To wear or chafe with friction: My shoes were beginning to rub.
  • intransitive v. To cause irritation or annoyance.
  • intransitive v. To move along in contact with a surface; graze or scrape.
  • intransitive v. To be transferred or removed by contact or proximity: newsprint that rubbed off on my fingers; wished some of her luck would rub off on me.
  • n. The act of rubbing.
  • n. The application of friction and pressure: a back rub.
  • n. A substance or preparation applied by rubbing, especially:
  • n. A liniment or balm.
  • n. A seasoning made of ground spices and herbs, applied to the surface of meat, fish, or vegetables before cooking.
  • n. An unevenness on a surface.
  • n. An act or remark that annoys or hurts another.
  • n. A difficulty or obstacle: "The rub for extraterrestrial life on Europa is that the moon's surface is an icy wasteland” ( William J. Broad).
  • rub down To perform a brisk rubbing of the body, as in massage.
  • rub in To harp on (an unpleasant matter).
  • rub out To obliterate by or as if by rubbing.
  • rub out Slang To kill; murder.
  • idiom elbows To mix or socialize closely: diplomats rubbing elbows with heads of state.
  • idiom rub (one's) hands To experience or display pleased anticipation, self-satisfaction, or glee.
  • idiom rub (someone's) nose in Slang To bring repeatedly and forcefully to another's attention.
  • idiom rub (someone) the wrong way To annoy; irritate: "One can see . . . how [his] expression of his ideals and intentions must have rubbed many people the wrong way” ( Christopher Lehmann-Haupt).
  • idiom rub up on To refresh one's knowledge of: I have to rub up on my French.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An act of rubbing.
  • n. A difficulty or problem.
  • n. In the game of crown green bowls: any obstacle by which a bowl is diverted from its normal course.
  • n. A mixture of spices applied to meat before it is barbecued.
  • v. To move one object while maintaining contact with another object over some area.
  • v. To rub something against.
  • v. To rub against something.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The act of rubbing; friction.
  • n. That which rubs; that which tends to hinder or obstruct motion or progress; hindrance; obstruction, an impediment; especially, a difficulty or obstruction hard to overcome; a pinch.
  • n. Inequality of surface, as of the ground in the game of bowls; unevenness.
  • n. Something grating to the feelings; sarcasm; joke.
  • n. Imperfection; failing; fault.
  • n. A chance.
  • n. A stone, commonly flat, used to sharpen cutting tools; a whetstone; -- called also rubstone.
  • intransitive v. To move along the surface of a body with pressure; to grate.
  • intransitive v. To fret; to chafe.
  • intransitive v. To move or pass with difficulty.
  • transitive v. To subject (a body) to the action of something moving over its surface with pressure and friction, especially to the action of something moving back and forth.
  • transitive v. To move over the surface of (a body) with pressure and friction; to graze; to chafe.
  • transitive v. To cause (a body) to move with pressure and friction along a surface.
  • transitive v. To spread a substance thinly over; to smear.
  • transitive v. To scour; to burnish; to polish; to brighten; to cleanse; -- often with up or over.
  • transitive v. To hinder; to cross; to thwart.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To apply pressure with motion to the surface of; apply friction to by chafing or fretting with something else: as, to rub the face with a towel; to rub one hand with the other.
  • To smooth, polish, clean, or coat by means of friction or frictional applications: as, to rub brasses or silver; to rub a floor; to rub furniture.
  • To treat, act upon, or remove by frictional pressure; act with or upon by friction: with out, off, in, etc.: as, to rub out marks, spots, or stains; to rub off rust; to rub in a liniment; to rub up an ointment in a mortar.
  • To take an impression of by friction; apply frictional pressure to, as an engraved or sculptured figure or inscription, for the purpose of copying. See rubbing, 2.
  • Figuratively, to affect in any way as if by frictional contact or pressure; furbish; fret: as, to rub (usually rub up) one's memory; to rub one the wrong way. See phrases below.
  • To cause to move over another body with friction: as, to rub one's hand over a mirror.
  • To reduce or bring to smaller dimensions by friction; smooth or render less prominent by rubbing.
  • To spread by rubbing; diffuse over a surface with a rubbing instrument: as, to rub out paint.
  • To blend or otherwise prepare by trituration: as, to rub up an ointment.
  • To awaken or excite by effort; rouse; freshen: as, to rub up the memory.
  • To move or act with friction; exert frictional pressure in moving: as, to rub against or along something.
  • Figuratively, to proceed with friction or collision; do anything with more or less effort or difficulty: commonly with on, along, through, etc.
  • In the old game of bowls, to touch or graze the jack or another ball with the bowl or played ball.
  • In needle-making, to straighten (a wire or needle) by rolling (it) while hot.—
  • n. An act or the action of rubbing; an application or occurrence of frictional contact: as, to take a rub with a towel; to give something a rub.
  • n. A metaphorical rubbing or chafing; an irritating or disturbing act or expression; interference; affront; sarcasm, gibe, or the like.
  • n. That which opposes or checks, as if from friction; any chafing or disturbing circumstance or predicament; an impediment, embarrassment, or stumbling-block; a pinch.
  • n. An unevenness of surface or character; a roughness or inequality; an imperfection; a flaw; a fault.
  • n. Inequality of the ground in a bowlinggreen.
  • n. In card-playing, same as rubber, 6.
  • n. A rubstone.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an unforeseen obstacle
  • v. move over something with pressure
  • v. cause friction
  • n. the act of rubbing or wiping
  • v. scrape or rub as if to relieve itching

Etymologies

Middle English rubben.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English rubben. Cognate with Saterland Frisian rubje ("to rub, scrape"), Low German rubblig ("rough, uneven"), Icelandic and Norwegian rubba ("to scrape"), Danish rubbe ("to rub, scrub"). (Wiktionary)

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