rub·​bing | \ ˈrə-biŋ How to pronounce rubbing (audio) \

Definition of rubbing

: an image of a raised, incised, or textured surface obtained by placing paper over it and rubbing the paper with a colored substance

Examples of rubbing in a Sentence

He made a rubbing of the old tombstone.
Recent Examples on the Web We are swaddled in red and green wool blankets and readied for sleep: story time, pajamas, the rubbing of tired eyes. Mikel Jollett, Time, "Growing Up in a Cult, I Never Understood Family. Then I Became a Father," 19 May 2020 Lay newspaper or scrap paper over the top, then make crayon rubbings in bright colors. Jamie Kiffel-alcheh, National Geographic, "How to throw an (almost) zero-waste birthday party," 26 Feb. 2020 That classic gesture of drying the chest hair, the circular rubbing of the space between the nipples. Katherine Dunn, The New Yorker, "The Resident Poet," 4 May 2020 Isopropyl alcohol will kill the virus in 30 seconds, and that’s with no manipulation, no rubbing. Zachary Halaschak, Washington Examiner, "'I am all in': Howard Stern throws his support behind Biden for president," 27 Apr. 2020 Either way, the shoe is made for long days: There's traction on the bottom to keep you from slipping on smooth museum floors, footbeds meant to mold to your feet, and cushioned padding on the heel to prevent rubbing. Condé Nast Traveler, "17 Best Walking Shoes for All Types of Travelers," 13 Apr. 2020 But the constant rubbing of elastic against skin can cause some irritation. cleveland, "Cloth masks in public might be here to stay. Here’s what you need to know.," 15 Apr. 2020 Practice rotational rubbing of your left and right thumbs (do this by gripping you thumb with the fingers of the opposite hand and rotating). Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "What Is the Safe Hands Challenge? Here's What You Need to Know About the New Viral Trend," 22 Mar. 2020 In this condition, the muscle has been stretched out, usually through the aging process, but can also occur from excess rubbing or pulling down the eyelid. Allure, "Everything You Should Know About Ptosis," 15 Mar. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'rubbing.' 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 rubbing

1845, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about rubbing

Time Traveler for rubbing

Time Traveler

The first known use of rubbing was in 1845

See more words from the same year

Statistics for rubbing

Last Updated

31 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Rubbing.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Jul. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for rubbing


How to pronounce rubbing (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of rubbing

: an image of a surface that is made by placing paper over it and rubbing the paper with a pencil, crayon, etc.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on rubbing

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


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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