rub

verb
\ ˈrəb How to pronounce rub (audio) \
rubbed; rubbing

Definition of rub

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a : 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
2 : to continue in a situation usually with slight difficulty in spite of financial difficulties, he is rubbing along
3 : to admit of being rubbed (as for erasure or obliteration)

transitive verb

1a : 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
rub elbows or rub shoulders
: to associate closely : mingle
rub one's nose in
: to bring forcefully or repeatedly to one's attention
rub the wrong way

rub

noun

Definition of rub (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : 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 (such as a gibe or harsh criticism)
d : something that mars serenity
2 : the application of friction with pressure an alcohol rub
3 US : a combination of spices that is rubbed into the surface of meat before the meat is cooked used a dry rub on the pork ribs

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of rub in a Sentence

Verb

Could you rub my shoulders? He blinked and rubbed his eyes. The cat rubbed itself against my leg. The cat rubbed against my leg. Don't rub too hard or you'll tear the paper. He rubbed his hands with glee. There was a squeak when the boards rubbed together. The back of my shoe is rubbing against my heel and giving me a blister. There are marks where the chair has rubbed against the wall. There are marks where the chair has been rubbing the wall.

Noun

She's an amazing cook, but she rarely has time to make meals. There's the rub. He used his favorite rub on the steaks. a dry rub for chicken
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Put a few drops in a diffuser; rub a few drops on your hands, wrist, or temples; or place lavender sachets under your pillow. Danielle Corcione, Teen Vogue, "How to Fall Asleep," 12 Mar. 2019 On Ash Wednesday, priests gather ashes from the previous Palm Sunday (more on that later) and rub them on the congregant's foreheads. Jennifer Aldrich, Country Living, "When is Lent? Here's Everything You Need to Know About the Christian Holiday," 13 Feb. 2019 Johns applies oil to objects, rubs them on paper and then adds pigment to fix the oily impressions. Lance Esplund, WSJ, "‘The Condition of Being Here: Drawings by Jasper Johns’ Review: Willfully Obtuse," 12 Nov. 2018 Horn attended a James Beard event while there and rubbed shoulders with industry elite, including Austin barbecue legend Aaron Franklin. SFChronicle.com, "Matt Horn is the future of Bay Area barbecue," 2 July 2019 His surreal collages, where world leaders rub shoulders with minor British celebrities, have appeared in newspapers and magazines in the U.K. and have been exhibited in London galleries. Skye Gurney, Time, "The Story Behind Cold War Steve's TIME Cover on Brexit Britain," 6 June 2019 From across the globe, people are converging on Normandy to follow in the footsteps of, perhaps even rub shoulders with, the remaining men and women who made a military success of D-Day. Raf Casert, Twin Cities, "Chasing demons: 75 years on, D-Day haunts, drives its vets," 3 June 2019 If calling your friend’s name and shaking their shoulders doesn’t work, Stoner suggests rubbing their sternum (breastbone) with your knuckles or pinching their earlobe. Natasha Lavender, SELF, "What to Do if Your Friend Is Passed Out Drunk," 26 Feb. 2019 In the space of a decade, Lerner’s custody had taken the club from rubbing elbows with the Premier League elite to being kicked out of the party altogether. Jonathan Clegg, WSJ, "The American Billionaire Who Got Chewed Up by English Soccer," 30 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

His Australian lamb is given an aggressive spice rub, then char-grilled. Wine Australia, Bon Appétit, "How Aussie Chef Aaron Brooks Brings the Unexpected to His Miami Steakhouse," 16 July 2019 Add the chicken and cook for about 3 minutes, until a nice color forms — don’t burn the spice rub, light grill marks are ok. Bibby Gignilliat, The Mercury News, "Quick Cook: Party-perfect spicy chicken with chimichurri," 5 July 2019 That ends up just being a rushed over-the-shirt back rub, but everyone still complains this is a rude move. Anna Moeslein, Glamour, "The Bachelor Season 23, Episode 2 Recap: Is Demi This Season's Villain?," 14 Jan. 2019 Toss in a large bowl with an ample handful of your favorite barbecue spice rub until wings are evenly coated. Dallas News, "Fort Worth's Heim Barbecue shares recipes for the perfect cookout side dishes," 1 July 2019 This will purge them of most of their gritty spice rub. Bonnie S. Benwick, The Denver Post, "Fire up your summer with recipes from the season’s new grilling cookbooks," 24 June 2019 Frye stretched his legs, rolled onto his back and shook his whole body — this was his way of asking for a belly rub, Bennett said. Valerie Royzman, Cincinnati.com, "Can a dog make a difference in the lives of those in recovery? For some, yes.," 9 June 2019 Artisan smoked foods by Route 40 barbecue; Old Bay steamed shrimp, pork ribs (with chef Nic Galloro’s famous rub), pulled pork, barbecue chicken, salads, beverages with wine and beer, desserts. Ron Browning, baltimoresun.com, "Havre de Grace: Plenty to do as summer officially begins," 21 June 2019 Next, cut a lemon in half and rub on the area for about five minutes per elbow, pat dry and use lotion on your elbows. Heloise, Washington Post, "Hints From Heloise: Added advice for Alaska RV trip," 21 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'rub.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of rub

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a

Noun

1577, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for rub

Verb

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about rub

Statistics for rub

Last Updated

7 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for rub

The first known use of rub was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for rub

rub

verb

English Language Learners Definition of rub

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: 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

rub

noun

English Language Learners Definition of rub (Entry 2 of 2)

: an act of rubbing a surface with your hands or an object
formal : something that causes a difficulty or problem
US : a combination of spices that is rubbed into the surface of meat before the meat is cooked

rub

verb
\ ˈrəb How to pronounce rub (audio) \
rubbed; rubbing

Kids Definition of rub

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to move along the surface of something with pressure Kitty rubbed against my legs.
2 : to move back and forth against something in a way that causes pain or damage The back of my shoe is rubbing against my heel.
3 : to scour, polish, or smear by pressure and friction He rubbed oil on the wood.
rub elbows with
: to meet and talk with in a friendly way Stink got to rub elbows with the president …— Megan McDonald, Judy Moody
rub in
: to keep reminding someone of (something unpleasant) I know I looked silly. Don't rub it in.
rub off
: to come off a surface and often stick to another surface by rubbing The ink rubbed off on my fingers.
rub the wrong way
: to cause to be angry : irritate

rub

noun

Kids Definition of rub (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the act of rubbing a back rub
2 : something that causes a problem

rub

noun
\ ˈrəb How to pronounce rub (audio) \

Medical Definition of rub

1 : the application of friction with pressure an alcohol rub
2 : a sound heard in auscultation that is produced by the friction of one structure moving against another

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on rub

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for rub

Spanish Central: Translation of rub

Nglish: Translation of rub for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of rub for Arabic Speakers

Comments on rub

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

WORD OF THE DAY

of or relating to the heavens

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Summer 2019 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a-bowl-of-peach-sorbet-with-cut-peaches-next-to-it
  • Which is a synonym of desideratum?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!