Main definitions of rub in English

: rub1RUB2



  • 1with object Apply firm pressure to the surface of (something), using a repeated back and forth motion.

    ‘she rubbed her arm, where she had a large bruise’
    no object ‘he rubbed at the earth on his jeans’
    • ‘He wrapped his arms around her, rubbing her back, trying to calm her.’
    • ‘She wrapped her arms around herself, rubbing her sides.’
    • ‘I pick up the photo and put an arm around Anders, rubbing his back.’
    • ‘I slowly put my arms around him and rubbed his back lightly.’
    • ‘Maggie warmed him as he had her, rubbing his back and arms.’
    • ‘I put both elbows on the glossy table surface, rubbed my temples, and shut my eyes.’
    • ‘Jennifer yelped, wrenched her arm away, and rubbed her shoulder.’
    • ‘He wrapped his arms around me and rubbed my back to comfort me.’
    • ‘Lee was able to turn around and wrap his arms around her waist rubbing her back.’
    • ‘Andrew wrapped his arm around her and rubbed her back and shoulder.’
    • ‘He disappeared into the house, and I began warming my arms by rubbing them.’
    • ‘Jerry Davis shook his head with a grim set to his firm jaw, rubbing the back of his neck with his large, callused hand.’
    • ‘I resisted the urge to pull her back into my arms and settled for rubbing her shoulder.’
    • ‘I smirked and stood up after stretching my arms and rubbing my eyes.’
    • ‘Rose winced as she flexed her arm and rubbed the spot where Darryl had grabbed her.’
    • ‘The girl rubbed her temple, trying to alleviate pressure there.’
    • ‘Once the needle was removed and a band-aid placed over the puncture, Ray snatched his arm away and rubbed the spot agitatedly.’
    • ‘It is important not to just rub the skin over the area but to apply firm downward pressure with the thumb, knuckle or elbow.’
    • ‘Julia has her arms crossed and she rubs them, obviously cold.’
    • ‘She moved closer to him and put her arms on his, rubbing them slightly.’
    massage, knead
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1with object and adverbial of direction Move (one's hand, a cloth, or another object) back and forth against a surface.
      ‘he rubbed a finger round the rim of his mug’
      • ‘She swallowed hard and moved, rubbing the cloth over a greasy part of the counter yet to be attended to in her study.’
      • ‘Jake sat back in the middle of the seat, rubbing a hand across his forehead.’
      • ‘He touched my cheek with his hand, rubbing his thumb over my cheek.’
      • ‘He put one hand to his chin and rubbed the thumb and forefinger back and forth along his jawline, stroking an absent beard.’
      • ‘She rubbed the towel over his knee, applying a faint pressure, which took his mind off the pain.’
      • ‘He reached out to rub his hand across the curly hair she kept cropped short.’
      • ‘The big cat purred happily in my arms, rubbing her head against my shirt.’
      • ‘I shrugged a little before reaching up, rubbing my hand against the back of my neck.’
      • ‘I rubbed my cold hands over my goosebump-ridden legs and looked up.’
      • ‘She moved away from the wall and rubbed a hand over her face.’
      • ‘Swinging his legs over the side of the bed, Mark rubbed his hand over his face and stretched his legs.’
      • ‘Timothy rubbed his left hand on the armband on his right arm.’
      • ‘Daniel took a deep breath, and shook his head a little, rubbing a hand over his eyes.’
      • ‘She found herself twirling her brown hair around her fingertips and rubbing the toe of her shoe on the floor.’
    2. 1.2with object and adverbial Apply (ointment, polish, or a similar substance) with a back and forth motion.
      ‘she took out her suncream and rubbed some on her nose’
      • ‘She dipped her fingers into the tub, and began to rub something onto Claire's belly.’
      • ‘I could smell the sweet polish that had been rubbed deep into the grain.’
      • ‘If babies are teething, rub peppermint oil or aloe vera gel on the gums, or give them a teaspoon of the chamomile/ginger tea brew as needed.’
      • ‘Robin usually mixes citronella, tea-tree oil or eucalyptus oils with a base oil and rubs it on her exposed skin.’
      • ‘The ointment must be rubbed into the area, not just applied superficially.’
      • ‘He went over to the first aid kit and got some ointment to rub onto Juliet's wounds.’
      • ‘Another reader experienced a severe skin reaction after rubbing catnip on her arms.’
      • ‘She had different ointments to rub on and disinfectants to wash out cuts.’
      • ‘Afterwards, I wouldn't let her dry me off, but she insisted on rubbing oils into my skin.’
      • ‘Wipe the foliage clean, if necessary, and if you wish, rub a little vegetable oil on the leaves to heighten the gloss.’
      • ‘At the time, a cream like substance was being rubbed onto my scalp.’
      • ‘After your shower/bath get some baby powder or scented lotion and rub it all over your body.’
      • ‘Many women get relief with the hormonal creams that are rubbed on the skin, but they haven't been studied as extensively for risks.’
      • ‘Usually the insecticide lotion should be rubbed onto your, or your child's, scalp and hair and left for a minimum of 12 hours before you wash it out.’
      • ‘Next, a mixture of fine sea salt, cocoa, vitamin C and Chocolate Body Syrup is rubbed into the skin.’
      • ‘To remove rust marks from old linen, rub in a mixture of lemon juice and salt and leave for 2-3 hours in the sun.’
      • ‘Sarah smiled as she opened a little bottle of lotion and rubbed some on her wrist.’
      • ‘She just laughed and handed me some ointment that I rubbed on and, as I write this, I'm still hobbling around the office.’
      • ‘Ask your chemist about sugar-free teething gel or powder which can be rubbed on your baby's gums.’
      apply, put on, smear, smooth, spread, work in, cream in
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3 Make dry, clean, or smooth by rubbing.
      ‘she found a towel and began rubbing her hair’
      with object and complement ‘I rubbed myself dry’
      • ‘Eva quickly rubbed herself dry and opened a door to the closet.’
      • ‘Casey rubbed her thick dark hair on her towel, hoping to dry it, as she walked back into her room.’
      • ‘She rubbed herself dry with the soft towel, and then eyed the clothes skeptically.’
      • ‘I stood up, and wrung out my hair, and went to my satchel and pulled off the shift that was clinging to me, and rubbed myself dry and put on a fresh shift.’
      • ‘She towel dried her hair, rubbing the black, wet strands.’
      • ‘He cooed and babbled at Adam the entire time his big brother was rubbing him dry.’
      • ‘The woman watched after him for a moment, then began to rub herself completely dry.’
      • ‘I realised that Edward was rubbing me dry with the large towel.’
      • ‘When he didn't answer, she sighed and unwrapped the towel from his waist, using it to rub his thick brown hair dry.’
      • ‘She quickly rubbed herself dry, and then she thought about her tunic, that she wouldn't be able to wear.’
      clean, mop, sponge, swab
      View synonyms
    4. 1.4rub something in/into/through Work an ingredient into (a mixture) by breaking and blending it with firm movements of one's fingers.
      ‘sift the flour into a bowl and rub in the fat’
      • ‘Sift the flour, cinnamon and sugar into a bowl and rub the butter in until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs.’
      • ‘Alternatively, rub the butter into the dry ingredients in a large mixing-bowl until combined.’
      • ‘Sift the flour into a bowl, rub the butter in until it looks like fine bread crumbs and add the oatmeal.’
      • ‘Put the dry ingredients into a bowl and rub in the butter.’
      • ‘Cut the chilled butter into small pieces then, using the tips of your fingers, rub it into the flour until it has the consistency of breadcrumbs.’
      • ‘Using your hands, rub the butter into the flour mixture, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs and butter pieces are between the size of a pea and a dime.’
    5. 1.5 Reproduce the design of (a sepulchral brass or a stone) by rubbing paper laid on it with coloured wax, pencil, or chalk, etc.
      ‘he was rubbing an old brass’
      • ‘You can rub the names, inscriptions, dates and more, but also think about rubbing the beautiful artistic carvings you see.’
  • 2(with reference to two things) move or cause to move to and fro against each other with a certain amount of friction.

    with object and adverbial ‘many insects make noises by rubbing parts of their bodies together’
    no object, with adverbial ‘the ice breaks into small floes that rub against each other’
    • ‘Remove completely any canes which rub each other by crossing.’
    • ‘Hannah's gaze falls to her hands, which rub against each other nervously.’
    • ‘I tried wiggling my toes and fingers, but I couldn't feel them rub against each other.’
    • ‘I heard some scratching sounds, like leaves rubbing against each other.’
    • ‘The pants were loose, too, and made a swishing noise when one leg rubbed against the other.’
    • ‘The only noises to be heard over the crackling of the fire were the branches of the trees rubbing eerily against each other, and the occasional rumble of thunder.’
    • ‘He rubbed his thumb and index fingers together, before he tried to speak to her again.’
    • ‘Not to mention that the socks will rub against each other, which might create discomfort and cause blisters.’
    • ‘Slowly, she got up and quietly walked out of her mother's room, her legs rubbing against each other in an attempt to be silent.’
    • ‘Heath moved down so his chest was rubbing against mine and I felt his breath tickle the side of my cheek.’
    • ‘Ernst said a supply hose had been rubbing against the dryer and was chafing through, which contributed to the natural gas smell.’
    • ‘He keeps rubbing those hands together, fidgeting with his fingers.’
    • ‘The bony surfaces are covered with cartilage and separated by a small disk, which prevents them from rubbing against each other.’
    • ‘Carefully avoiding letting her trouser legs rub against each other causing a large amount of sound, she eased her way to the door and burst it open.’
    • ‘She rubbed her forefinger and thumb together and shook her head.’
    1. 2.1no object (of shoes or other hard items in contact with the skin) cause pain through friction.
      ‘badly fitting shoes can rub painfully’
      • ‘I had a blister on my heel that burned badly as my oversized shoes rubbed up and down.’
      • ‘It's also a good idea to avoid mended socks with thick seams, which can rub and irritate your skin.’
      • ‘Staff found red grazes on the boy's shoulders and neck where his clothing had rubbed against his skin, the court was told.’
      • ‘You might also try attaching moleskin to the inside of your shoes where it might rub, such as your heels.’
      • ‘The joints are stiff, making it harder to move them, and it can be difficult to straighten out the toes to prevent rubbing against shoes.’
      • ‘Our legs, to the hips, are covered with bites and heat and chafed spots where our wet clothes rub against our skin.’
      • ‘Tight clothes that rub against acne aggravated skin tend to disrupt the area even more and give rise to new pimples by spreading the oil and bacteria.’
      • ‘It was tough work, for the rope constantly rubbed against his skin around his moving hand.’
      • ‘Personally, I find that shoes with an ankle strap of some kind are more comfortable, less prone to rubbing and more stable.’
      • ‘They shouldn't do this, though, because the fiberglass edges can rub on the skin and cause irritation.’
      • ‘Do not wear uncomfortable or tight shoes that rub or cut into your feet.’
      • ‘Rucksacks and running shoes rub, turning burns into sores.’
      • ‘Avoid using tight fitting diapers that could rub against the skin.’
      • ‘Adrianna felt the ropes rubbing against her delicate skin, tearing and burning.’
      • ‘She tried to pull her hands free but winced as the rope rubbed uncomfortably against her skin.’
      • ‘My feet were sore from the sand rubbing in my shoes.’
      • ‘Blisters are usually the result of heat injury, such as sunburn, or from repeated friction, such as shoes that rub.’
      chafe, pinch, scrape, abrade
      View synonyms
    2. 2.2no object (of a bowl) be slowed or diverted by the unevenness of the ground.


  • 1An act of rubbing.

    ‘she pulled out a towel and gave her head a quick rub’
    • ‘He knew that he could fake an accidental rub against her skin.’
    • ‘Befriend an alley cat that could benefit from some catnip and a few rubs.’
    • ‘I strolled over to him, gave him a friendly rub, and then turned to back to tend to Chaz.’
    • ‘Thomas jumped out, gave me a rub, ran straight to his food bowl, and started eating.’
    • ‘The pain startled him out of his thoughts, but a quick rub of the injury relieved the throbbing.’
    massage, rub-down
    polish, buffing
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 An ointment designed to be rubbed on the skin to ease pain.
      ‘a muscle rub’
      • ‘When your schedule cuts stretching or sauna time out of your workout, reach for a rub.’
      • ‘Alcohol hand rubs are quick to use (10-20 instead of 90-120 seconds) and can be used while walking and talking.’
      • ‘For pregnant women who do not want to take internal medicine for fear of side effects on the child, cold rubs are again an effective alternative.’
      • ‘Some physicians find the alcohol-based rub to be more convenient.’
      • ‘Hand basins are provided in each ward, and disinfectant rubs are available at the end of each bed.’
      • ‘A close shave with a giant razor creates a smooth base for a facial rub followed by a massage to increase circulation.’
      • ‘Alcohol-based rubs can replace some portion of hand washing, but repeated use of these hand rubs for skin antisepsis can lead to dry skin.’
      • ‘I also keep Bach Rescue Remedy in my first-aid kit, along with a good muscle balm and a chest rub.’
      • ‘Although use of alcohol hand rub was increasing, compliance with hand hygiene remained poor and was worse when staffing levels were low.’
      • ‘She discovered a recipe book of 19th-century balms - everything from boot wax to saddle polish - and began to cook up all kinds of potions, rubs, and salves.’
      • ‘They've replaced salt rubs because sugar is gentler to the skin and less dehydrating.’
      • ‘As well as using the alcohol gel rub, most hospital staff now wear a badge with the Clean Your Hands logo on to remind everyone to practice good hand hygiene.’
      • ‘Has anyone ever written to tell you that a muscle rub works to quell the itching of mosquito bites?’
      • ‘Before examining a patient, hospital staff should make sure they have washed their hands or cleaned them with a special alcohol rub or gel.’
      • ‘If you develop an ache in an area and there is no risk a bone might be broken, it is usually alright to treat it using rubs and medicines available from your pharmacy.’
  • 2the rubThe central problem or difficulty in a situation.

    ‘that was the rub—she had not cared enough’
    • ‘To build the team he wants requires adding to the club's debt and there's the rub.’
    • ‘Now here is the rub: you cannot lower both error rates simultaneously.’
    • ‘But surely the rub is in implementing these worthy principles!’
    • ‘Now, here's the rub: our meal plus two pints and two halves of lager set us back a whopping £50.90p.’
    • ‘The rub is that I don't feel the requisite sensations, and never have, in the presence of the paintings themselves.’
    • ‘The rub was that he wasn't particularly open about his feelings.’
    • ‘The rub is that the City Attorney's Office has declared a conflict of interest.’
    • ‘But here is the rub: the performance lacks in integration what it provides in imaginative ambition.’
    • ‘The rub is that it's an hour-long speedboat ride on sometimes choppy waters.’
    • ‘The rub is this: the sender is asking for your bank details in order to pay the win.’
    • ‘More than financial, the rub we feel in such circumstances is the tension between competing views of how we can be most helpful to newsrooms.’
    • ‘But here's the rub: this isn't just a generally plebeian thing.’
    • ‘Anyone who has read the script for the film knows that it's a singularly brilliant piece of writing, but the rub is that screenplays are written to be filmed, not to be read.’
    • ‘And there's the rub - how many people would be willing to write something for nothing?’
    • ‘The rub is, there isn't an original composition between them.’
    problem, difficulty, trouble, drawback, hindrance, obstacle, obstruction, impediment
    View synonyms
  • 3(in bowling) an uneven patch of ground that impedes or diverts a bowl.

    • ‘He got a brilliant rub with his bowl to Farley's corner and he was suddenly a bowl of odds clear again.’


  • not have two pennies (or farthings etc.) to rub together

    • informal Be very poor.

      • ‘These guys don't have two quarters to rub together.’
      • ‘Most isolated people whose estate falls into the control of the state don't have two nickels to rub together.’
      • ‘Soon after, we didn't have two shillings to rub together in our pockets, so even if we could source the scarce commodities, we could not buy them.’
      • ‘I was on full scholarship and didn't have two dimes to rub together.’
      • ‘What's interesting to me is, when he died in '73, you guys didn't have two nickels to rub together.’
      • ‘I didn't have two pennies to rub together, and I had to borrow a fiver to run the horse.’
      • ‘And they don't have two dimes to rub together to begin with.’
      • ‘They don't have two pennies to rub together but they are actually writing lyrics that can break your heart in 15 million places.’
      • ‘And they'll do it even if they don't have two pennies to rub together.’
      • ‘I love to go out and have a good drink, but it is very difficult to charge people who don't have two pennies to rub together,’ he said.’
  • the rub of the green

    • 1An accidental or unpredictable influence on the course or position of the ball.

      1. 1.1Good fortune, especially as determining events in a sporting match.
        ‘we didn't get the rub of the green’
        • ‘Good defending, excellent goalkeeping and a rub of the green on other occasions had denied East Mayo of the goal they need to boost their hopes.’
        • ‘We just didn't get the rub of the green but the pleasing thing for me was that we were positive in everything we did and we tried to win the game.’
        • ‘If we get the rub of the green then I believe that we really can surprise a few people.’
        • ‘We didn't get the rub of the green and I thought that a couple of refereeing decisions were a bit unfair.’
        • ‘Now we've just got to keep going, keep our fingers crossed and hope we get the rub of the green.’
        • ‘The Warriors haven't had the rub of the green this season.’
        • ‘Nevertheless both teams acquitted themselves very well and did the school proud and were somewhat unlucky on the night as they didn't quite get the rub of the green in both matches.’
        • ‘Maybe before we didn't get the rub of the green, we didn't play to the final whistle or we didn't plug away enough.’
        • ‘We didn't play particularly well again today, but we are at least now getting the rub of the green.’
        • ‘If it all clicks into place this summer and the rub of the green goes England's way, this could be their time.’
  • rub one's hands

    • Rub one's hands together to show keen satisfaction.

      ‘shareholders in the massively profitable business must be rubbing their hands in glee’
      • ‘I grinned to myself, rubbing my hands together.’
      • ‘It appears not, while the residents of the leafy lanes in south Dublin rub their hands together in glee, the economists are once again stumped by a story that continues to run.’
      • ‘Murphy smiled, rubbed his hands together and they laughed.’
      • ‘How the lawyers must be rubbing their hands together!’
      • ‘Besides Clarissa, Trevor was rubbing his hands together with glee.’
      • ‘When big Australian companies report record profit increases, it's not just their shareholders rubbing their hands together in anticipation.’
      • ‘Statuesquely seated on a sofa, with her carefully straightened hair cascading down her back, she practically rubs her hands together in glee when she talks about her stint as a crime reporter.’
      • ‘Then he rubs his hands together in anticipation.’
      • ‘Instead, he rubbed his hands together, satisfied.’
      • ‘I know from working in the retail supermarket environment that owners of all large firms at this time of year rub their hands together and think of profits.’
  • rub it in (or rub someone's nose in something)

    • informal Emphatically draw someone's attention to an embarrassing fact or mistake.

      ‘they don't just beat you, they rub it in’
      • ‘I swear she was smirking and then, to rub my nose in it, she went off and snuggled down for the night.’
      • ‘I spoke from the enthusiasm of ignorance - and you shouldn't rub my nose in it.’
      • ‘I was gracious enough not to rub his nose in it yesterday.’
      • ‘She was grateful to Jerome for taking them in, but she hated the way Jerome rubbed Chuck 's nose in it, at every opportunity.’
      • ‘Aren't you going to be happy unless you're rubbing my nose in the fact I got caught?’
      • ‘He didn't need Damien rubbing his nose in it, making it even worse.’
      • ‘That's a reasonable approach, provided you don't rub her nose in her deficiencies.’
      • ‘Thompson would then rub her nose in it and viciously taunt her in front of her friends.’
      • ‘He has won the argument, but there is no point in rubbing his opponent's nose in it.’
      • ‘‘I hate to rub your nose in it, but it is beautiful sunshine here in Athens,’ he joked.’
      emphasize, stress, underline, highlight
      View synonyms
  • rub noses

    • Rub one's nose against someone else's in greeting (especially as traditional among Maoris and some other peoples).

      • ‘She rubbed noses with Phoenix who, in the way of these things, had been asked to ‘present’ her with her prize.’
      • ‘I'm told that New Zealand's Maori tribesmen rub noses when they meet, that Tibetans stick out their tongues to say hello, and that some East Africans might say howdy by spitting at your feet.’
      • ‘He and Mandy rub noses and smile as they hold each other.’
      • ‘Following this, the group had the opportunity to rub noses - literally - with the local Maori people as the members were introduced to the typical Maori method of greeting friends.’
      • ‘Her eyes inches from mine, I rubbed noses with her.’
      • ‘She rubbed noses with her child, and didn't want to imagine anything but that moment.’
  • rub shoulders

    • Associate or come into contact with another person.

      ‘he rubbed shoulders with TV stars at the party’
      • ‘He admits he misses socialising and rubbing shoulders with Royalty during the horse trials.’
      • ‘Sophie is based at Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre, Buckinghamshire, where she rubs shoulders with England's superstar footballers who train there.’
      • ‘Now Jeffrey has the opportunity to rub shoulders with the socialites of the club.’
      • ‘Back before gated communities and suburban commuters, people of varying means rubbed shoulders more regularly.’
      • ‘Back then the place was a hubbub of activity at the weekends, with walkers, families and locals rubbing shoulders and jostling for elbow room in front of a glowing open fire.’
      • ‘Certainly it never hurts to rub elbows and shoulders with those who are - or will become - the business leaders of the community.’
      • ‘I feel like I belong with all the wealthy socialites I rub elbows with.’
      • ‘Film directors, producers and actors rubbed shoulders, making small talk and reminiscing about their association with the late director.’
      • ‘Denis was well known among the racing fraternity having rubbed shoulders with them for many years.’
      • ‘Once a fixture at some of Manchester's most high-class establishments, he now rubs shoulders with truckers and tea ladies.’
      associate with, mingle with, fraternize with, socialize with, mix with, keep company with, consort with
      View synonyms
  • rub someone the wrong way

    • Irritate or repel someone (as by stroking a cat against the lie of its fur)

      ‘he had a cold manner that rubbed people the wrong way’
      • ‘It wouldn't be the first time he has rubbed someone up the wrong way.’
      • ‘Also, the actress really rubs me the wrong way somehow.’
      • ‘But I don't think for a minute that he's no good, he just rubs me up the wrong way.’
      • ‘Yet to this day, something about the circumstances surrounding the woman's statement rubbed me the wrong way.’
      • ‘The reference to the employees as clients rubbed me the wrong way as well.’
      • ‘These men share a tendency toward balladeering that rubs me the wrong way.’
      • ‘They just rub me up the wrong way.’
      • ‘Maybe there's something about your writing that rubs me the wrong way.’
      • ‘Stella joined the company back in August, and immediately set about rubbing us up the wrong way.’
      • ‘The editor may have been a fairly kindly and laid-back man, but he had a vicious temper and could be very malicious if he was in the wrong mood and you rubbed him the wrong way.’
      irritate, annoy, irk, vex, provoke, displease, exasperate, infuriate, get on someone's nerves, get someone's back up, put someone's back up, put out, pique, upset, nettle, needle, ruffle someone's feathers, make someone's hackles rise, try someone's patience
      View synonyms

Phrasal Verbs

  • rub along

    • 1Cope or manage without undue difficulty.

      ‘they rub along because their overheads are so low’
      • ‘This way everyone gets their religious holiday (Derived literally from ‘Holy Day’) and we all rub along.’
      • ‘And little wonder that he has otherwise had to rub along as best he can, scrimping and saving and quietly hoping that a successful team somehow happens organically.’
      • ‘If the county disappears and we become a unitary authority, we do not have a redundant building and, if not, I am sure we can rub along nicely.’
      • ‘Local journalists who had been rubbing along on whatever miserable pay journalists make were suddenly migrating to the East Side where they were not getting employed as journalists, but as content providers.’
      • ‘That's because the basic function of the state is to keep the population rubbing along fairly nicely.’
      • ‘All I want is what is best for my Asian community, not for them to keep rubbing along.’
      manage, cope, get along, get on, make do, be all right, do all right, fare all right, muddle along, muddle through, shift
      View synonyms
      1. 1.1Have a satisfactorily friendly relationship.
        ‘they liked each other and rubbed along quite well’
        • ‘Is this discussion even worth having, given that we all just rub along fine?’
        • ‘The message of the biennial is that normal people can rub along together just fine without presuming that every citizen wears his or her political leader's colours.’
        • ‘I'd actually rather we all compromised a bit, and tried to rub along together.’
        • ‘Written in 1992, the drama is set in a tenement building - that staple of Scottish fiction and drama, an urban crucible where neighbours must rub along however securely they bolt their doors.’
        • ‘A wide variety of age groups, families and friends, happily rubbed along side-by-side enjoying everything that we had to offer in this beautiful setting.’
        • ‘But I like their blogs and the personalities that shine through the writing and we usually rub along quite amicably.’
        • ‘He wasn't much loved in his own time, apparently, even by people - schoolmates, for example, and neighbours in Vermont - with whom he thought he was rubbing along well.’
        • ‘With all our differences, somehow we rub along together.’
        • ‘These tribes have not always rubbed along happily - Northern Ireland being only one example - and no one has quite managed to define Britishness to everyone's satisfaction.’
        • ‘Somehow we all managed to rub along together pretty well.’
  • rub something down

    • 1Dry, smooth, or clean something by rubbing.

      ‘bare wood should be rubbed down with abrasive paper’
      • ‘Dig out your tools from the back of the shed, clean them up, rub them down, sharpen and oil them and head outdoors.’
      • ‘If dead skin builds up around the wart, it might help to trim it away or rub it down gently with a pumice stone.’
      • ‘He looked over the boot he was working on, spit on it, and then began rubbing it down with a rag furiously.’
      • ‘Have a helper hold one end of the paper off the surface while you work from the opposite end to slowly rub the paper down so no air bubbles are trapped.’
      • ‘Spray a little silicone or Teflon spray lubricant on the tracks and rub them down with fine steel wool.’
      • ‘You're now ready to rub the surfaces down using sandpaper - this will remove any splinters or remains of old paint.’
      • ‘Hamilton recommends that dancers soak their feet in the bathtub every two weeks and rub the calluses down with a pumice stone.’
      clean, sponge, wash
      View synonyms
      1. 1.1Rub the sweat from a horse or one's own body after exercise.
        ‘the horses were unsaddled and rubbed down’
        • ‘He grunted his thanks, and they worked together to unsaddle the horses and rub them down.’
        • ‘We brought the horses into the barn rubbed them down, and fed them.’
        • ‘If you want me to put the horses in their stall and rub them down I can.’
        • ‘Imprinting involves rubbing the foal down with towels and touching all areas of the body in order to desensitize him.’
        • ‘He rubbed the horses down the best he could, then sent them out to the field.’
        • ‘She watered the mules at the stableyard fountain, rubbed them down, and let them rest in a patch of shade.’
        • ‘Let's get these horses in and rub them down.’
        • ‘She rubbed the horses down and let them loose among the grass to graze.’
        • ‘Inside, he could see a young man rubbing down a mare and someone else was moving around near the back part of the huge barn.’
        clean, sponge, wash
        View synonyms
  • rub off

    • Be transferred by contact or association.

      ‘when parents are having a hard time, their tension can easily rub off on the kids’
      • ‘Four members of the cast are very experienced and this rubs off on the fifth member who has not been in as many productions.’
      • ‘There seems to be a natural intensity and desire there to put in a top performance every week, so it will be interesting to see how this rubs off on the rest of the players.’
      • ‘‘He still joins in training, but is relaxed and that rubs off on the lads,’ says Flitcroft.’
      • ‘We've become accustomed to treating alcohol as no big thing, and our relaxed attitude rubs off on long-term visitors.’
      • ‘What would be nice is if the negative people could try and be positive because that rubs off on the players.’
      • ‘The buzz of having everyone on stage is something that rubs off on each cast member and the camaraderie is evident as members help each other with dance moves for the finale.’
      • ‘It is all about taking pride in the local community and when people see someone doing that it rubs off onto other people.’
      • ‘Almost without exception, these towns exhibit a spirit, pride and pursuit of excellence that rubs off on any intruder.’
      • ‘Celebrity rubs off on the people surrounding the glittering stars, too.’
      • ‘Samuel hopes his enthusiasm rubs off on local players.’
      be transferred to, be passed on to, be transmitted to, be communicated to
      View synonyms
  • rub someone out

    • Kill someone.

      ‘you can bet he's been rubbed out for business reasons’
      • ‘I had nothing but a raw animal instinct in me to rub this man out, to erase him.’
      • ‘So of course they're gonna rub him out, or kill him, or something.’
      • ‘The men were in New York for a week, just to rub someone out.’
      • ‘Two of their assassins were sent in to rub him out for good.’
      • ‘The story is about two secret agents who are suddenly forced to rub each other out.’
      • ‘I've often wondered why they haven't just rubbed him out.’
  • rub something out

    • Erase pencil marks with a rubber.

      ‘he rubbed out a couple of lines and carried on drawing’
      • ‘The word had been rubbed out.’
      • ‘They quite often have to rub their work out at the end of the day and use the paper again.’
      • ‘You make your mark and that is it, you can't rub it out.’
      • ‘It was built unsymmetrically because Stalin wrote on the plans; they were redesigned around his scrawl because nobody had the courage to rub it out.’
      • ‘But as I stood there, scribbling away on the white board, rubbing words out and rewriting, we hashed out a statement.’
      • ‘They need to get it right first time as well as they can't just rub it out and start again.’
      erase, delete, scrub out, wipe off, remove, efface, obliterate, expunge
      View synonyms


Middle English (as a verb): perhaps from Low German rubben, of unknown ultimate origin. The noun dates from the late 16th century.




Main definitions of rub in English

: rub1RUB2


  • Russian rouble(s).