Date: 1300-1400
Origin: Perhaps from Low German rubben


1 verb
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.
rub against
The cat purred loudly, rubbing against her legs.
rub something together
We tried to make a fire by rubbing two pieces of wood together.
He rubbed his hands together with embarrassment.
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.
rub against/on
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?

rub shoulders with somebody

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.

rub salt into the wound

informal to make a bad situation even worse for someone

rub somebody up the wrong way

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

be rubbing your hands

informal to be pleased because something has happened which gives you an advantage, especially because something bad has happened to someone else

rub somebody's nose in it/in the dirt

informal to keep reminding someone about something they did wrong or failed to do, especially in order to punish them

not have two pennies/halfpennies/beans to rub together

British English old-fashioned to not have any money

rub along

phrasal verb
to have a friendly relationship with someone [= get along]:
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 ↔ down

phrasal verb
1 to make a surface smooth by rubbing it with sandpaper:
That door needs rubbing down before you paint it.
2 to dry a person or animal by rubbing them with a cloth, towel etc:
The groom rubbed down the horses.
3 to massage someone, especially after exercise

rub something ↔ in

phrasal verb
to remind someone about something they want to forget, especially because they are embarrassed about it:
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 off

phrasal verb
1 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.
2 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 ↔ out

phrasal 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

Dictionary results for "rub"
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