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verb \ˈrəb\

Simple Definition of rub

  • : to move something (such as your hand or an object) back and forth along the surface of (something) while pressing

  • : to move (two things) back and forth against each other

  • : to move back and forth many times against something in a way that causes pain or damage

Full Definition of rub


  1. intransitive verb
  2. 1 a :  to move along the surface of a body with pressure :  grate b (1) :  to fret or chafe with or as if with friction (2) :  to cause discontent, irritation, or anger

  3. 2 :  to continue in a situation usually with slight difficulty <in spite of financial difficulties, he is rubbing along>

  4. 3 :  to admit of being rubbed (as for erasure or obliteration)

  5. transitive verb
  6. 1 a :  to subject to or as if to the action of something moving especially back and forth with pressure and friction b (1) :  to cause (a body) to move with pressure and friction along a surface (2) :  to treat in any of various ways by rubbing c :  to bring into reciprocal back-and-forth or rotary contact

  7. 2 :  annoy, irritate

rub elbows or rub shoulders
  1. :  to associate closely :  mingle

rub one's nose in
  1. :  to bring forcefully or repeatedly to one's attention

rub the wrong way

Examples of rub

  1. Could you rub my shoulders?

  2. He blinked and rubbed his eyes.

  3. The cat rubbed itself against my leg.

  4. The cat rubbed against my leg.

  5. Don't rub too hard or you'll tear the paper.

  6. He rubbed his hands with glee.

  7. There was a squeak when the boards rubbed together.

  8. The back of my shoe is rubbing against my heel and giving me a blister.

  9. There are marks where the chair has rubbed against the wall.

  10. There are marks where the chair has been rubbing the wall.

Origin of rub

Middle English rubben; akin to East Frisian rubben to rub, scrape, Icelandic rubba to scrape

First Known Use: 14th century




Simple Definition of rub

  • : an act of rubbing a surface with your hands or an object

  • the rub : something that causes a difficulty or problem

  • : a combination of spices that is rubbed into the surface of meat before the meat is cooked

Full Definition of rub

  1. 1 a :  an unevenness of surface (as of the ground in lawn bowling) b :  obstruction, difficulty <the rub is that so few of the scholars have any sense of this truth themselves — Benjamin Farrington> c :  something grating to the feelings (as a gibe or harsh criticism) d :  something that mars serenity

  2. 2 :  the application of friction with pressure <an alcohol rub>

Examples of rub

  1. She's an amazing cook, but she rarely has time to make meals. There's the rub.

  2. He used his favorite rub on the steaks.

  3. a dry rub for chicken


First Known Use of rub


Medical Dictionary


noun \ˈrəb\

Medical Definition of rub

  1. 1:  the application of friction with pressure <an alcohol rub>

  2. 2:  a sound heard in auscultation that is produced by the friction of one structure moving against another

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up rub? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 8, 2016

to clear from accusation or blame

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