from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun See the extract.
  • noun The substance obtained by the coagulation of the latex of Hevea Brasiliensis, wherever grown. This is known commercially as cultivated Para. See Ceylon rubber.
  • noun See rubber shoddy.
  • To turn around to see something; to look out or about in an eager or awkward manner; in general, to look about.
  • To listen when others are talking through the telephone (on party lines).
  • noun One who turns around to see something; one who gazes or looks out eagerly: often used as an exclamation in mockery of one who turns to look at something.
  • noun A person who rubs, or who practises rubbing of any kind as a business, as one employed in rubbing or polishing stone, one who attends and rubs down horses (as those used for racing), one who practises massage, etc.
  • noun An instrument, substance, or stuff used for rubbing, or cleaning or polishing by friction.
  • noun A piece of caoutchouc used to erase pencil-marks from paper, etc. From this, the first use to which caoutchouc was put, it came to be called rubber, or India rubber (now india-rubber). See def. 3.
  • noun A brush consisting of wool, felt, chamois-skin, or other substance fastened to a back, used for erasing chalk from a blackboard or slate.
  • noun In stone-work: An implement used in grinding or polishing. In the moldings of stone, an iron rubber mounted on a wooden stock is employed for fillets, beads, and astragals. These rubbers have convex or concave faces, according to the required contour of the work. A stone or wooden block covered with thick felt is used for polishing stone and marble. E. H. Knight. An implement for polishing marble, consisting of a mass of rags compressed by screws in an iron frame.
  • noun A tool for rubbing or flattening down the seams of a sail in sail-making.
  • noun The cushion of an electric machine, by friction against which the plate becomes charged with one kind of electricity and the rubber with the opposite kind. The rubber is made of horsehair, and covered with leather overlaid with a metallic preparation, sometimes consisting of the bisulphid of tin, or an amalgam, usually of zinc, tin, and mercury.
  • noun A whetstone, rubstone, or rubbing-stone.
  • noun A coarse file, or the rough part of it.
  • noun A device for applying French polish to furniture, etc. It consists of a small ball of wadding covered with a linen rag. This is saturated with the varnish, and then covered with another rag moistened with oil. The varnish oozes gradually through the outside rag as the rubber is passed over the work with a uniform circular motion.
  • noun A grinding or abrading agent, as emery-cloth or glass-paper for surfacing plates.
  • noun The part of a wagon-lock which presses against the wheels.
  • noun India-rubber; caoutchouc. See def. 2 , and india-rubber.
  • noun Something made partly or wholly of india-rubber or caoutchouc.
  • noun An inequality of the ground in a bowling-green; a rub; hence, obstruction; difficulty; unpleasant collision in the business of life.
  • noun plural In the game of bowls, a contact or collision of two bowls.
  • noun A limited series of games, usually three, as at whist, in which the contest is decided by the winning of the greater number of games; also, the decisive game in such a series.
  • Made of caoutchouc or india-rubber; having caoutchouc as the principal component.
  • Caoutchouc in sheets.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun One who, or that which, rubs.
  • noun An instrument or thing used in rubbing, polishing, or cleaning.
  • noun A coarse file, or the rough part of a file.
  • noun A whetstone; a rubstone.
  • noun An eraser, usually made of caoutchouc or a synthetic rubber[4].
  • noun The cushion of an electrical machine.
  • noun One who performs massage, especially in a Turkish bath.
  • noun Something that chafes or annoys; hence, something that grates on the feelings; a sarcasm; a rub.
  • noun In some games, as bridge or whist, the odd game, as the third or the fifth, which decides the winner when there is a tie between the players; ; also, a contest determined by the winning of two out of three games.
  • noun India rubber; caoutchouc; gum elastic; -- also called natural rubber.
  • noun Any substance, whether natural or synthetic, resembling India rubber with respect to its elasticity[1].
  • noun A low-cut overshoe made of natural or synthetic rubber[4], serving to keep the feet and shoes dry when walking in the rain or on a wet surface; -- usually used in the plural.
  • noun Slang A condom.
  • noun an elastic durable variety of vulcanized caoutchouc of a red color. It contains antimony sulphide as an important constituent.
  • noun a kind of vulcanized caoutchouc which nearly resembles horn in texture, rigidity, etc.
  • noun caoutchouc. See Caoutchouc.
  • noun cloth covered with caoutchouc for excluding water or moisture.
  • noun (Dentistry) a shield of thin sheet rubber clasped around a tooth to exclude saliva from the tooth.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun uncountable Pliable material derived from the sap of the rubber tree; a hydrocarbon polymer of isoprene.
  • noun uncountable, countable Synthetic materials with the same properties as natural rubber.
  • noun countable, UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, India An eraser.
  • noun countable, North America, slang A condom.
  • noun slang ) Not covered by funds on account.


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

In the sense of an eraser, rub +‎ -er; in the sense of pliable material, derived from the previous sense of eraser; the other senses derived from the pliable material sense.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Origin unknown.


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  • If condom catheters are too costly or not available, a regular condom (‘rubber’, ‘sheath’, or ‘prophylactic’ for family planning) can be attached to the collection tube with a rubber band or tape. regular condom

    1) Head Control and Use of Senses 1999

  • Interestingly, the term rubber comes from, in the 18th Century one of the first practical uses, well before vulcanization, was that it was found to be useful for erasing pencil marks, for rubbing them out and that's where the term rubber comes from.

    Noble Obsession: Charles Goodyear, Thomas Hancock, and the Race to Unlock the Greatest Industrial Secret of the Nineteenth Century 2002

  • LEE: Here's something interesting, too, "Wall Street Journal" talking about this this week that GM workers go to what's called -- what they call a rubber room in Detroit.

    CNN Transcript Mar 2, 2006 2006

  • He reiterated minorities should not become what he called rubber stamps of the majority.

    ANC Daily News Briefing 1996

  • M: I was shooting a scene for Extreme Associates called 'White Trash Pieces of Shit' and the set up was Paris Gables and I were having a title rubber chicken fighting match.

    LUKE IS BACK 2008

  • just a question for Y'all, where did the term rubber side down originate? anybody know?

    The Indignity of Commuting by Bicycle: Death BikeSnobNYC 2008

  • In the most wholesome sense it pongs eco, with spartan bamboo cabanas and dormitories equipped with independent renewable energy supplies, grey water recycling systems, pit-toilets that guests compost, and service roped in rubber time.

    Richard Bangs: Nic' of Time Richard Bangs 2010

  • Some sci-fi fans are skeptical of a sequel or remade version because Toho Company practices the tradition of using live actors in rubber costumes stomping on miniatures, as opposed to modern day CGI.

    Godzilla Plus | SciFi, Fantasy & Horror Collectibles 2009

  • It drew amusing parallels between real-life disaster management and old-fashioned monster movies (I got a Sim-City flashback here and there), and I really enjoyed his “scientific explanations” for the ridiculous things monsters regularly do in rubber suit movies.

    MM9 « Haikasoru: Space Opera. Dark Fantasy. Hard Science. 2010

  • Thin rubber bands have nothing on those thick ones for accuracy and grip.

    Open Stuck Jars With Rubber Bands | Lifehacker Australia 2009

  • To rubber duck, or to rubber duck debug, is to explain your code or problem aloud in hopes that the process of describing it and hearing it aloud will help you diagnose your problem.

    5 Commonly Used Idioms in the Tech Industry Karina Chow 2023


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  • "The rubber launched her, and grapefruits and cassavas also helped send her on her way." -- from the Wordnik examples under cassavas.

    April 26, 2011

  • I assume it's referring to cash crops?

    April 26, 2011

  • Amusing about rubber launching her, though. Brings to mind ballistics. Wheeee!

    April 26, 2011

  • "The talker waited while the crowd rubbered."

    - Nightmare Alley, William Lindsay Gresham

    June 30, 2012

  • "To listen when others are talking through the telephone (on party lines)."

    -- from the Century

    March 23, 2014