|Origin:||Perhaps from Low German rubben|
rub1 S3 past tense and past participle rubbed, present participle rubbing
1 [intransitive and transitive]
to move your hand, or something such as a cloth, backwards and forwards over a surface while pressing firmly [↪ stroke]
rub your nose/chin/eyes/forehead etc
She yawned and rubbed her eyes.
rub something with something
She began rubbing her hair with a towel.
You'll have to rub harder if you want to get it clean.
I hurriedly rubbed myself dry.
2 [intransitive and transitive]
to make something press against something else and move it around
rub something against/on something
She stood by the oven, rubbing one bare foot against the other.
The cat purred loudly, rubbing against her legs.
3 [intransitive and transitive]
if shoes, clothes, or parts of a machine rub, they move around while pressing against another surface, often causing pain or damage:
Badly fitting shoes are bound to rub.
The front left fender was smashed and rubbing against the wheel.
The skin under my sock was rubbed raw (=the skin had come off).
4 [transitive always + adverb/preposition]
to put a substance into or onto a surface by pressing it and moving it about with your fingers or something such as a cloth:
Can you rub some sun cream on my back for me?
5 informal also rub elbows with somebody American English
to meet and spend time with people, especially rich and famous people:
As a reporter he gets to rub shoulders with all the big names in politics.
to make a bad situation even worse for someone
7 British English informal rub somebody the wrong way American English informal
to annoy someone by the things you say or do, usually without intending to
to be pleased because something has happened which gives you an advantage, especially because something bad has happened to someone else
to keep reminding someone about something they did wrong or failed to do, especially in order to punish them
10 British English old-fashioned
to not have any money
rub alongphrasal verb
We rub along well most of the time.
rub along with/together
By and large the Poles and Germans of the city had shown that they could rub along together.
rub something/somebody ↔ downphrasal verb
to make a surface smooth by rubbing it with sandpaper:
That door needs rubbing down before you paint it.
to dry a person or animal by rubbing them with a cloth, towel etc:
The groom rubbed down the horses.
to massage someone, especially after exercise
rub something ↔ inphrasal verb
Was he trying to rub in the fact that he didn't think much of me?
I know I should have been more careful, but there's no need to keep rubbing it in.
rub offphrasal verb
to remove something from a surface by rubbing it, or to come off a surface because of being rubbed
rub something off something
Jack rubbed the mud off his face.
rub something ↔ off
She rubbed off her lipstick and eye shadow.
Some of the gold paint had begun to rub off.
if a feeling, quality, or habit rubs off on you, you start to have it because you are with another person who has it
rub off on
She refused to give up, and her confidence rubbed off on the others.
rub something/somebody ↔ outphrasal verb
1 British English
to remove writing, a picture etc from a surface by rubbing it with a piece of rubber, a cloth etc [= erase]:
Draw the outline lightly with a soft pencil. This can be rubbed out later.
2 American English old-fashioned informalSCC
to murder someone