Main definitions of scrub in English

: scrub1scrub2

scrub1

verb

[with object]
  • 1Rub (someone or something) hard so as to clean them, typically with a brush and water.

    ‘he had to scrub the floor’
    ‘she was scrubbing herself down at the sink’
    no object ‘she scrubbed furiously at the plates’
    • ‘Step by step, however, the soil was scrubbed, the rail spur built, the masterplan drawn.’
    • ‘After you've scrubbed your bathroom and kitchen floors, you don't want to walk on them for days.’
    • ‘I rubbed and scrubbed that thing, until it fairly shone and glistened in the morning sun.’
    • ‘This warhorse has been scrubbed clean and readied for a new campaign.’
    • ‘Twenty young trainees from banks in Birmingham, Brighton, London, Newport, Andover and Bristol, brushed, scrubbed, painted and spruced up the pens.’
    • ‘While she scrubbed him she would invariably speak to him of the importance of personal hygiene.’
    • ‘Unusual materials such as plank flooring - scrubbed with grain for decades exposing an articulated wood grain pattern - were turned into exquisite trim stock.’
    • ‘Its clothing is bleached, starched, and pressed, and its face is scrubbed clean.’
    • ‘Scoff you may, but in a sterile world, the wall is just one more thing to scrub down.’
    • ‘So they scrubbed away at the pictures, removing grime and, with it, layer after layer of thinly applied paint.’
    • ‘We scrub down our kitchens and bathrooms with antimicrobial cleansers, make sure to cook our hamburgers thoroughly and swallow antibiotics to treat strep throat infections.’
    • ‘It's a fine and noble thing to allow children a glimpse into our nation's rich past, even if the view is filtered through a rose-colored lens that has been scrubbed as clean as patent leathers.’
    • ‘Unlike many of the villages we've passed, this one appears scrubbed.’
    • ‘When he got home he thoroughly soaped and scrubbed the parts.’
    • ‘Furthermore, work areas are constantly being cleaned, scrubbed or otherwise maintained to a near-spotless condition.’
    • ‘As soon as he was gone, Charlie stalked off to where Lisa and her mother scrubbed potatoes into a bucket and rinsed them off in seawater.’
    • ‘We pack the clean eggs directly in cartons and scrub the soiled eggs under running water before packing them.’
    scour, rub, brush, sponge, swab, clean, cleanse, wash, wipe
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1scrub something away/off Remove dirt by rubbing hard.
      ‘it took ages to scrub off the muck’
      • ‘Well it took me 3 days to scrub the burnt rice off that pan.’
      • ‘A tear or two rolled down her face, but she scrubbed it away.’
      • ‘It is applied with a cotton mop and eliminates copper much more quickly than scrubbing it away with a bore brush.’
      • ‘Dumping shampoo and conditioner on my head, I squirted some shower gel on a sponge and scrubbed the grime off my body.’
      • ‘She looked embarrassed at first, before she scrubbed it away furiously.’
      • ‘They should not try to scrub the lesions away, and they should not use alcohol-based astringents that can dry and irritate their skin.’
      • ‘The day I scrubbed the blood off my camera bag was the first time I really cried.’
      • ‘She didn't much care for the idea but quickly bathed and scrubbed the dirt off of her body.’
      • ‘Some of our body therapy treatments involve dead sea salt and dead sea mud, which are very good for scrubbing toxins away and getting the toxins out of your muscles as well as your skin.’
      • ‘I started at the bay windows, scrubbing the grime away and bleaching the suspected mold.’
      • ‘I tried to scrub it off in the bathroom, but it wouldn't come off.’
      • ‘He scrubbed the accumulated blood off, keeping his eyes closed.’
      • ‘She scrubbed the dirt off of her body until she was satisfied.’
    2. 1.2scrub upno object Thoroughly clean one's hands and arms before performing surgery.
      ‘the doctor scrubbed up and donned a protective gown’
      • ‘NHS staff are taking a leading role in a new regionwide campaign encouraging people to scrub up well.’
      • ‘The job obviously requires you to scrub up for surgery and bare below the elbow when examining patients.’
      • ‘Former nurses say there was a reluctance on the part of medical staff to enter the unit and all staff were made to scrub up carefully to prevent infection.’
      • ‘She urged anyone coming into contact with the water to scrub up with soap and water.’
    3. 1.3scrub up wellBritish informal no object (of a person) have a smart and well-groomed appearance after making a deliberate effort.
      ‘the band scrub up well to play weddings and parties’
      • ‘Like any star, she wants to scrub up well before meeting her public.’
      • ‘Besides the star duo, the supporting roles scrub up well.’
      • ‘People seem to like visiting me, I'm over 30, I'm slowly falling to pieces and could do with a lot of TLC, with a bit of work I scrub up well, and I've been told I have way too many toys in the attic.’
      • ‘Despite scrubbing up well for the shoot, he grunts, ‘I don't think I'll be doing James Bond any time soon.’’
      • ‘He also commented on how smart we all looked - see we do scrub up well!’
      • ‘She also thought I scrub up well… Unfortunately it didn't last, after four hours in the pub I looked a bit rumpled to say the least!’
      • ‘‘You scrub up well,’ Allie cheekily grinned before she could stop herself.’
      • ‘First impressions are important, so scrub up well.’
      • ‘The one thing that people always unkindly say about her is, she's no supermodel, but she does scrub up well.’
  • 2informal Cancel or abandon (something)

    ‘the first two races had to be scrubbed because of blustery winds and rough seas’
    • ‘The first two planned races had to be scrubbed because of blustery winds and rough seas.’
    • ‘If a child shows an aptitude and a burning desire to play the violin, the plan for her to train for World Cup soccer may have to be scrubbed,’
    • ‘If this means the profile's scrubbed, ‘he continues, ‘that's fine by me.’’
    • ‘I just may have to scrub the whole thing and go back to version 1.’
    abolish, scrap, throw out, abandon, drop, do away with, give up, discontinue, take away, stop, put an end to, cancel, call off, eliminate, cut, jettison, discard, forget, forget about, abort
    View synonyms
  • 3Use water to remove impurities from (gas or vapour)

    ‘the vapour is scrubbed by the condensate’
    • ‘The gas from the separator is scrubbed with water to recover additional vinyl acetate.’
    • ‘Once the gas is extracted, it is scrubbed to remove acids and dehumidified.’
    • ‘The gas is then scrubbed with a high-boiling organic solvent which is miscible with water and to which sulfur is added.’
    • ‘To win, the system should be able to scrub the equivalent of at least a billion tons of the greenhouse gas a year.’
  • 4Motorsports
    (of a driver) allow (a tyre) to slide or scrape across the road surface so as to reduce speed.

    ‘I usually only scrub the front tyre when I get into a turn too hot’
    • ‘I ended up scrubbing the tyres in and the shaking problems I had disappeared.’
    • ‘I went off from the back of the pack, scrubbed the tyre in for three laps and pulled in to ensure I had maximum grip left for my important race.’
    1. 4.1 (of a driver) reduce (speed) by allowing the tyres to slide or scrape across the road surface.
      ‘he slammed the bike down on the cases to scrub off speed’
      • ‘It seemingly took forever to scrub off speed when I stood on the brake pedal.’
      • ‘It scrubs off speed with plenty of engine braking.’
      • ‘I release the brakes and drop quickly onto my left knee, letting the front tire scrub off the remaining speed.’
  • 5no object (of a rider) rub the arms and legs urgently on a horse's neck and flanks to urge it to move faster.

    with infinitive ‘by now the field was spreadeagled and scrubbing to keep in touch with the hounds’
    • ‘Usually at Cheltenham you're scrubbing the heads off your horses trying to get them closer.’
    • ‘But you could see me scrubbing him the whole way in the Belmont, and not going anywhere.’
    • ‘Now he was back-pedalling quickly and the jockey was hard at work on him, scrubbing him along frantically but getting no response.’

noun

  • 1An act of scrubbing something or someone.

    ‘give the floor a good scrub’
    • ‘Once your finish coat loses it's shine it's time for a scrub and recoat.’
    • ‘Study participants perform one surgical hand scrub on day one of the test week and are immediately gloved.’
    • ‘Performing a surgical hand scrub before a surgical procedure is intended to reduce the number of microorganisms.’
    • ‘By spending less than 1 – 2 minutes to give yourself a whole-body scrub from head to toe, you can boost the skin's resistance to outside temperature change.’
    • ‘Finally after some hours my friend caught him and gave him a good scrub and detoxified him as best he could.’
  • 2A semi-abrasive cosmetic lotion applied to the face or body in order to cleanse the skin.

    ‘don't use facial scrubs if your skin is sensitive’
    • ‘When using an alcohol-based surgical hand scrub with persistent activity, follow the manufacturer's instructions.’
    • ‘7 Remove calluses with a pumice stone or exfoliating scrub.’
    • ‘After soaking, experience a mango sugar scrub to reduce age spots and fine lines.’
    • ‘And my apricot exfoliating facial scrub sits above the sink next to my Morning Fresh dishwashing detergent.’
    • ‘If you're rushed in the shower, smooth feet with an oil-based salt or sugar scrub.’
    • ‘Shower gels and a nice bath scrubby, maybe a little pot of sugar scrub.’
    • ‘Other joints give you long rather torturous salt and lemon exfoliating body scrubs first and then apply the stuff.’
  • 3scrubsinformal Special hygienic clothing worn by surgeons during operations.

    ‘Bill emerged from the delivery room in green scrubs’
    • ‘He was wearing green scrubs and looked like a surgeon coming down the hall.’
    • ‘Dull paint job, old marble floors and the staff are actually wearing cheesy looking hospital scrubs.’
    • ‘We continue to hear about facilities that home launder their surgical scrub attire.’
    • ‘Soon, we were joined by a doctor wearing green scrubs.’

Origin

Late 16th century: probably from Middle Low German, Middle Dutch schrobben, schrubben.

Pronunciation

scrub

/skrʌb/

Main definitions of scrub in English

: scrub1scrub2

scrub2

noun

  • 1mass noun Vegetation consisting mainly of brushwood or stunted forest growth.

    ‘a desert plain dotted with scrub’
    • ‘Inland wetlands can be differentiated by their dominant vegetation: emergent vegetation wetlands, scrub shrub wetlands, and forested wetlands.’
    • ‘Following fencing, scrub clearance and introduction of sheep grazing a good chalk grassland flora is starting to re-establish including the rare ground pine which relies on sheep grazing to survive.’
    • ‘Images of barren trees, dry scrub and leaf-scattered ground present the rural Virginia landscape in December.’
    • ‘Along the way, the river cuts through oak savannas, desert scrub, and grassland expanses.’
    • ‘There are considerable areas of birch scrub in Iceland and at exposed coastal sites in north Norway.’
    • ‘The 10-hectare piece of chalk grassland was losing its chalk grassland plants due to more than 90% scrub invasion.’
    • ‘Conservation of remnant scrub vegetation is a matter of state and national concern.’
    • ‘The Kalahari is a green desert, largely of low thorn scrub and acacia trees.’
    • ‘Reestablishment of scrub vegetation on phosphate mines has been attempted with varying success.’
    brush, brushwood, scrubland, undergrowth, coppice, copse, thicket
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1also scrubs Land covered with scrub vegetation.
      ‘the wind tore across scrub and heathland’
      as plural noun ‘his courageous explorations in the scrubs’
      • ‘At last, there are plans to turn the scrub into a proper park.’
      • ‘And during the negotiations, about 3,700 acres of coastal sage scrub were destroyed.’
      • ‘The first division separated inland forest from inland scrub habitats.’
      • ‘Coastal rock and scrub habitats are easily distinguished by the species present and by the geographical location.’
      • ‘Volatile substances released by Salvia and other aromatic shrubs in coastal sage scrub are complex compounds.’
      • ‘Scrubby flatwoods are commonly adjacent to or intermixed and integrated with rosemary scrub.’
      • ‘The men cross the dunes; afternoon light throws long shadows onto the scrub.’
      • ‘Gap dynamics and the availability of open space differ between rosemary scrub and scrubby flatwoods.’
      • ‘Covered with scrub, native mesquite trees and low wild grasses, the desert site slopes gently down to the south.’
      brush, brushwood, scrubland, undergrowth, coppice, copse, thicket
      View synonyms
  • 2as modifier Denoting a shrubby or small form of a plant.

    ‘scrub apple trees’
    • ‘Basal diameter and height of each scrub oak stem within the plot were recorded.’
    • ‘Invasive plants including grasses, scrub guava trees and sugar cane stretched from one end of the property to the other, and the fertility of the fragile tropical soils had long been depleted.’
    • ‘They prefer grasslands, chaparral, and scrub oak areas to forage for food.’
    • ‘In rural southwest Georgia, Highway 137 heads out of tiny Buena Vista, past neatly kept lawns, then through patches of kudzu and stands of scrub pine.’
    1. 2.1North American Denoting an animal of inferior breed or physique.
      ‘a scrub bull’
      • ‘Our goats are specially bred for milk production as well as for show, not ‘backyard’ scrub goats.’
      • ‘Scrub bull hunts are conducted in conjunction with our North Queensland wild boar hunts.’
      • ‘Before the stock law was enacted nearly every farmer had a herd of scrub sheep running ‘outside’ on mountains and hills.’
  • 3informal An insignificant or contemptible person.

    ‘you are a mean scrub’
    • ‘Any poor scrubs in our place must be fools not to think the match a very rare and astonishing honour, as far as the position goes.’
    1. 3.1North American A sports team or player not among the best or most skilled.
      ‘a former All-Star reduced to the role of scrub’
      • ‘He was a scrub for ten years in football at a private school because playing football was mandatory.’
      • ‘He is not a scrub, but let's not get that hall of fame speech ready yet.’
      • ‘They said that he was a scrub and would never do anything that good - unfortunately he did.’
    2. 3.2
      short for scrubber (sense 2 of the noun)
  • 4North American mass noun An informal team game played by children in a public area.

    ‘hardly anyone ever plays scrub these days’
    as modifier ‘we were playing scrub baseball’
    • ‘‘The kids in the neighborhood would play on a vacant corner lot, choosing up sides and playing scrub,’ she told me.’
    • ‘Fact is, probably you and I would have had a great summer playing scrub in Dallas together when we were kids.’
    • ‘This continued for almost a month until it warmed up and we began playing scrub.’

Origin

Late Middle English (in the sense ‘stunted tree’): variant of shrub.

Pronunciation

scrub

/skrʌb/