\ 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



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

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb But the fact that Shawn was approached while leaving a gym rubbed some fans the wrong way. Jasmine Gomez, Seventeen, "Shawn Mendes Fans Are Calling Each Other Out for Mobbing Him Outside of a Gym in Australia," 8 Nov. 2019 But this year, the Bawdens’ ideas have rubbed some the wrong way, with many in particular taking issue with a large guillotine beheading baby dolls. Rachel Desantis,, "Utah Family Slammed for Halloween Decor Featuring Guillotine Beheading a Fake Baby: 'Way Too Far'," 31 Oct. 2019 After lathering, rub each other down with a nongreasy, aromatic massage oil. Charli Penn, Essence, "The Nightstand: Pamper Your Partner To Pleasure With These 6 Bedroom Products," 17 Oct. 2019 The game matches the Browns against Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who led the Browns to a 5-3 finish - and apparently rubbed some players the wrong way - as interim head coach last season. Scott Patsko,, "Cleveland Browns vs. New York Jets: How to watch, time, channel, streaming," 14 Sep. 2019 But there is something else about Bellanova that seems to be rubbing populists the wrong way: her career. Annalisa Merelli, Quartz, "Italy’s new agriculture minister is truly of the people—and she’s kryptonite for populists," 7 Sep. 2019 Snatching a towel from a ball person, giving the crowd the middle finger, trolling them in an interview and dancing his way to the net after a win have all rubbed them the wrong way. Ravi Ubha, CNN, "Daniil Medvedev reaches first grand slam final at US Open," 6 Sep. 2019 Maybe Kap and Reid were rubbed the wrong way by Jay-Z’s stance. Mike Jones, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Jay-Z deserves the benefit of the doubt as he joins forces with the NFL," 17 Aug. 2019 Many buyers appreciate the benefits provided by HOAs, but the mandatory dues and covenants, conditions and restrictions (CCRs) occasionally rub some people the wrong way. Shannon Cobb Evans, Houston Chronicle, "Realtor View: Do your research before buying home, condo governed by HOA," 17 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The Ingredient: Pink Peppercorn Brad advocated (bradvocated) for pink peppercorns in the rub, which are pleasantly pink, floral and fruity, and offer a little something different. Bon Appétit, "Everything That Goes Into Making the Absolutely, Positively Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey," 16 Oct. 2019 Fun fact: Maple loves belly rubs, long walks, squeaky toys, and hugs., "> Meet some of the other therapy dogs that visit Boston Children’s in videos on the hospital website.," 28 Sep. 2019 The rub: Peloton is getting almost 80% of its revenues selling equipment, and the percentage hasn't changed much over the last three years. Shawn Tully, Fortune, "To Reward Investors, Peloton Needs To Ride Like the Wind," 27 Sep. 2019 His Alamo Dust rub works great with pork and poultry, infusing a crimson color into the meat that brings both a sweet and savory flavor. Chuck Blount,, "10 San Antonio-made seasoning mixes to add to your barbecue game," 9 Sep. 2019 My rub with Flacco having success with the Broncos is the lack of firepower around him. Ryan O'halloran, The Denver Post, "Broncos Mailbag: If starters don’t play, what can be learned from Hall of Fame Game?," 30 July 2019 Hanging Hills has again collaborated with Bear’s Smokehouse for its unique German-style lager, using fresh pumpkin smoked at Bear’s with the barbecue joint’s secret dry rub. Leeanne Griffin,, "It’s time for fall beers at Connecticut breweries. Here are eight of them.," 16 Sep. 2019 Brush room temperature pork chops with olive oil and pat oiled chops with Sassy rub., "Recipe: Sassy Smoked Pork Chops," 9 Sep. 2019 While some of his antics have been humorous, like a quick back rub for Toronto coach Nick Nurse, others, like his heckling of Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, tread into uncomfortably mean-spirited territory. Ann Killion,, "Warriors investor embarrasses team, underscores how vulnerable players are," 6 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.

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First Known Use of rub


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


1577, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for rub


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

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Statistics for rub

Last Updated

13 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for rub

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

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More Definitions for rub


How to pronounce rub (audio)

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



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


\ 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



Kids Definition of rub (Entry 2 of 2)

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


\ 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

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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

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to speed up the process or progress of

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