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


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

Middle English rubben.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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").



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