Definition of rubbish in English:



  • 1[mass noun] Waste material; refuse or litter.

    ‘householders may be charged for the removal of non-recyclable rubbish’
    • ‘West Wiltshire District Council is introducing a new twin bin scheme, which sees recyclable waste and regular rubbish collected on alternate weeks.’
    • ‘If we care so much about our town's image, how come there is chewing gum trodden into the costly paving in Victoria Square and all sorts of cans, cartons and stray rubbish littering our streets?’
    • ‘Waste ground on Tile Street was also reported to be badly littered with rubbish.’
    • ‘The scheme requires people using a van or trailer to dump rubbish at household waste sites to pay for a permit.’
    • ‘The council provides residents with a green waste bin for non-recyclable household rubbish, bags for paper, boxes for glass and a separate bin for garden waste.’
    • ‘While walking on the prom on Saturday night, close to the entrance to the stone jetty, I came across a dog waste bin overflowing with rubbish.’
    • ‘Teams of children, aged between 12 and 19 years, cleared piles of rubbish in a two-hour litter blitz.’
    • ‘The team will also be happy to offer practical help and advice to anyone who experiences difficulties fitting rubbish into their refuse bin when the new fortnightly collection rota begins.’
    • ‘Often the buses are dirty, smelly and littered with rubbish.’
    • ‘The landscaped areas behind the bus stop - which residents say attracts rats because of rubbish thrown by litter louts - will also be cleaned up if the scheme is passed.’
    • ‘Some people were having to take their excess rubbish to the municipal waste depot at Thornton-le-Dale.’
    • ‘The winners of City of York Council's summer clean-up campaign were presented with prizes, won after they gained raffle tickets for putting their rubbish in waste bins.’
    • ‘It was finally discovered right at the bottom of a pile of garden waste and other rubbish, but with the gold and gems intact.’
    • ‘From the start of the procession we were pelted with rubbish, litter, very hard sweets, stones and eggs.’
    • ‘What do we care what happens to our rubbish after the nice refuse engineer has collected it from our home?’
    • ‘The Government has known for five years that disposing of solid toxic waste with domestic rubbish would be banned, bringing the UK in line with the rest of Europe.’
    • ‘This will allow the council to introduce alternate weekly collections of recyclable waste one week and non-recyclable rubbish from the grey wheeled bin the next.’
    • ‘We know that some people fear a build-up of rubbish where domestic waste collections have been reduced.’
    • ‘The government and councils have told bin workers to refuse to collect rubbish from homes that have not paid.’
    • ‘Under the new scheme the town's bin lorries will collect recyclable waste and household rubbish on alternate weeks forcing residents to hold onto black sacks for up to 14 days.’
    refuse, waste, garbage, litter, discarded matter, debris, detritus, scrap, dross
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Material that is considered unimportant or valueless.
      ‘she had to sift through the rubbish in every drawer’
      • ‘They cobble together any old rubbish to pass off as art such as baths full of baked beans or piles of old house bricks.’
      • ‘Among the jumble and mess were hidden treasures priceless articles bundled next to worthless rubbish.’
    2. 1.2Absurd, nonsensical, or worthless talk or ideas.
      ‘critics said their work was a load of rubbish’
      [as exclamation] ‘some MPs yelled ‘Rubbish!’’
      • ‘There are still a few die-hard bigots around who still believe that sort of rubbish.’
      • ‘They thought it was a load of rubbish and just ignored it as any proof had yet to be discovered.’
      • ‘I have never read such a load of rubbish in my life.’
      • ‘This bill is gobbledygook; it is twaddle; it is rubbish.’
      • ‘It is very difficult to believe half the rubbish uttered by some team managers before and after matches these days.’
      • ‘It is smug, fundamentalist rubbish to suggest that simply because people do not believe in this particular bill, they are anti-family.’
      • ‘It was a load of rubbish, I don't want to waste my time watching that.’
      • ‘We have been accused of selling out at Warwick - what a load of rubbish.’
      • ‘Since when are you a great believer in true love and all that romance novel rubbish?’
      • ‘And we can safely say that it is a load of rubbish.’
      • ‘It is nothing short of extraordinary that, at the close of the 20th century, intelligent people still believe in superstitious rubbish.’
      • ‘Some of these television pundits do talk a load of rubbish!’
      • ‘What a load of rubbish, how can they stand there talking such nonsense in front of reporters?’
      • ‘How can so many people in the world's most technically advanced nation believe such rubbish?’
      • ‘The claim made by the Minister that this bill will reduce compliance costs, and suchlike, is a load of rubbish.’
      • ‘A lot of people say I talk a load of rubbish in this column but this particular week they are absolutely right.’
      • ‘Well, I do have some ideas, but they're all rubbish.’
      • ‘Many people here who suffer from cancer believed this rubbish and of course spent their life savings and even incurred debts to pay for this man's vitamins to cure the disease.’
      • ‘I think the idea of a metrosexual man is a load of rubbish.’
      • ‘What we are hearing now is just total drivel and rubbish.’
      nonsense, balderdash, gibberish, claptrap, blarney, blather, blether, moonshine
      View synonyms


  • Criticize severely and reject as worthless.

    ‘he rubbished the idea of a European Community-wide carbon tax’
    • ‘But ministers have been notably restrained about rubbishing the paper on microphone.’
    • ‘He is at his splenetic best when rubbishing Auden's poetry, a subject he joyously returns to again and again.’
    • ‘His previous books on what he says are earth's forgotten civilisations were bestsellers - but rubbished by certain academics.’
    • ‘Rumours that certain parts of the college are haunted were rubbished by one porter, who dismissed them as ‘codswallop’.’
    • ‘Jennifer's spokesperson has also rubbished the rumours’
    • ‘Constantly rubbishing residential childcare is enormously detrimental to the young people and staff who live and work in them.’
    • ‘Using his position at the University of Berlin he dedicated himself to rubbishing Cantor's ideas and ruining him personally.’
    • ‘Carlyle rubbished talk of retirement immediately after suffering the injury, and he has reiterated his eagerness to return to action.’
    • ‘These petty slurs have been rubbished by the business consortium and players alike.’
    • ‘Granted, the media response to the series was overwhelmingly hostile, with The Sunday Times to the fore in rubbishing the programmes.’
    • ‘Since then he has spent much of his time rubbishing Jack's achievements in the job.’
    • ‘Continental Europeans rubbished the idea, saying that generations of French and Italian women and children had eaten soft cheese without ill effect.’
    • ‘I express this concern to my friend, who rubbishes my fears.’
    • ‘Scotland might again be its own worst enemy, rubbishing a plucky enterprise which succeeded in publishing a handful of worthwhile books against the odds.’
    • ‘But look, I'm not completely rubbishing the idea.’
    • ‘She wasn't buying any of this, but thought she would pick it apart rationally before she rubbished it publicly.’
    • ‘For more than a month, employees at the stately home had denied all knowledge of an impending wedding, rubbishing local rumours that the island would host the occasion.’
    • ‘A senior road policing officer has rubbished reports that a dual carriageway near Chelmsford is being used as an unofficial race track.’
    • ‘Ever since we first discovered foreign food gastronomes have been rubbishing homegrown grub as fatty stodge.’
    • ‘Even if post modernism readily swaps wit and subversion for gravitas and rubbishes the idea of the ‘original’ in art, the question is not invalid.’
    belittle, denigrate, deprecate, depreciate, downgrade, play down, deflate, trivialize, minimize, make light of, treat lightly, undervalue, underrate, underestimate
    View synonyms


  • Very bad; worthless or useless.

    ‘people might say I was a rubbish manager’
    ‘she was rubbish at maths’
    • ‘We constantly hear about people being encouraged to dump their cars and get on the bus but then we are left with a rubbish bus service.’
    • ‘The wonderful thing about football is that you can always find something to lighten up your day - even when you've got no leg room, a restricted view and are watching a rubbish game at Oldham.’
    • ‘It sounds like a rubbish chain of hotels.’
    very bad, very poor, awful, terrible, dreadful, appalling, frightful, atrocious, inferior, incompetent, inadequate, ineffective
    worthless, valueless, trashy, inferior, unsatisfactory, substandard, second-rate, third-rate, poor-quality, low-quality, low-grade, cheap, shoddy, tawdry, gimcrack, twopenny-halfpenny
    View synonyms


Late Middle English: from Anglo-Norman French rubbous; perhaps related to Old French robe spoils; compare with rubble. The change in the ending was due to association with -ish. The verb (1950s) was originally Australian and New Zealand slang.