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’
    • ‘Twenty young trainees from banks in Birmingham, Brighton, London, Newport, Andover and Bristol, brushed, scrubbed, painted and spruced up the pens.’
    • ‘Scoff you may, but in a sterile world, the wall is just one more thing to scrub down.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Its clothing is bleached, starched, and pressed, and its face is scrubbed clean.’
    • ‘After you've scrubbed your bathroom and kitchen floors, you don't want to walk on them for days.’
    • ‘Unusual materials such as plank flooring - scrubbed with grain for decades exposing an articulated wood grain pattern - were turned into exquisite trim stock.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I rubbed and scrubbed that thing, until it fairly shone and glistened in the morning sun.’
    • ‘Step by step, however, the soil was scrubbed, the rail spur built, the masterplan drawn.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Unlike many of the villages we've passed, this one appears scrubbed.’
    • ‘Furthermore, work areas are constantly being cleaned, scrubbed or otherwise maintained to a near-spotless condition.’
    • ‘We pack the clean eggs directly in cartons and scrub the soiled eggs under running water before packing them.’
    • ‘This warhorse has been scrubbed clean and readied for a new campaign.’
    • ‘When he got home he thoroughly soaped and scrubbed the parts.’
    • ‘So they scrubbed away at the pictures, removing grime and, with it, layer after layer of thinly applied paint.’
    • ‘While she scrubbed him she would invariably speak to him of the importance of personal hygiene.’
    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’
      • ‘He scrubbed the accumulated blood off, keeping his eyes closed.’
      • ‘They should not try to scrub the lesions away, and they should not use alcohol-based astringents that can dry and irritate their skin.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘She looked embarrassed at first, before she scrubbed it away furiously.’
      • ‘I tried to scrub it off in the bathroom, but it wouldn't come off.’
      • ‘The day I scrubbed the blood off my camera bag was the first time I really cried.’
      • ‘Well it took me 3 days to scrub the burnt rice off that pan.’
      • ‘I started at the bay windows, scrubbing the grime away and bleaching the suspected mold.’
      • ‘She didn't much care for the idea but quickly bathed and scrubbed the dirt off of her body.’
      • ‘Dumping shampoo and conditioner on my head, I squirted some shower gel on a sponge and scrubbed the grime off my body.’
      • ‘She scrubbed the dirt off of her body until she was satisfied.’
      • ‘It is applied with a cotton mop and eliminates copper much more quickly than scrubbing it away with a bore brush.’
      • ‘A tear or two rolled down her face, but she scrubbed it away.’
    2. 1.2scrub up[no object] Thoroughly clean one's hands and arms before performing surgery:
      ‘the doctor scrubbed up and donned a protective gown’
      • ‘She urged anyone coming into contact with the water to scrub up with soap and water.’
      • ‘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.’
    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’
      • ‘He also commented on how smart we all looked - see we do scrub up well!’
      • ‘Despite scrubbing up well for the shoot, he grunts, ‘I don't think I'll be doing James Bond any time soon.’’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Besides the star duo, the supporting roles scrub up well.’
      • ‘Like any star, she wants to scrub up well before meeting her public.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 2informal Cancel or abandon (something):

    ‘the first two 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,’
    • ‘The first two planned races had to be scrubbed because of blustery winds and rough seas.’
    • ‘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, abort
    View synonyms
  • 3Use water to remove impurities from (gas or vapour):

    ‘the vapour is scrubbed by the condensate’
    • ‘Once the gas is extracted, it is scrubbed to remove acids and dehumidified.’
    • ‘The gas from the separator is scrubbed with water to recover additional vinyl acetate.’
    • ‘To win, the system should be able to scrub the equivalent of at least a billion tons of the greenhouse gas a year.’
    • ‘The gas is then scrubbed with a high-boiling organic solvent which is miscible with water and to which sulfur is added.’
  • 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 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.’
    • ‘I ended up scrubbing the tyres in and the shaking problems I had disappeared.’
    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’
      • ‘I release the brakes and drop quickly onto my left knee, letting the front tire scrub off the remaining 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.’
  • 5[no 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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Once your finish coat loses it's shine it's time for a scrub and recoat.’
    • ‘Finally after some hours my friend caught him and gave him a good scrub and detoxified him as best he could.’
    • ‘Study participants perform one surgical hand scrub on day one of the test week and are immediately gloved.’
  • 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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Other joints give you long rather torturous salt and lemon exfoliating body scrubs first and then apply the stuff.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Shower gels and a nice bath scrubby, maybe a little pot of sugar scrub.’
    • ‘If you're rushed in the shower, smooth feet with an oil-based salt or sugar scrub.’
  • 3scrubsSpecial hygienic clothing worn by surgeons during operations:

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

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

  • 1[mass noun] Vegetation consisting mainly of brushwood or stunted forest growth:

    ‘a desert plain dotted with scrub’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The 10-hectare piece of chalk grassland was losing its chalk grassland plants due to more than 90% scrub invasion.’
    • ‘The Kalahari is a green desert, largely of low thorn scrub and acacia trees.’
    • ‘Conservation of remnant scrub vegetation is a matter of state and national concern.’
    • ‘There are considerable areas of birch scrub in Iceland and at exposed coastal sites in north Norway.’
    • ‘Along the way, the river cuts through oak savannas, desert scrub, and grassland expanses.’
    • ‘Inland wetlands can be differentiated by their dominant vegetation: emergent vegetation wetlands, scrub shrub wetlands, and forested wetlands.’
    • ‘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’
      • ‘Gap dynamics and the availability of open space differ between rosemary scrub and scrubby flatwoods.’
      • ‘Volatile substances released by Salvia and other aromatic shrubs in coastal sage scrub are complex compounds.’
      • ‘The men cross the dunes; afternoon light throws long shadows onto the scrub.’
      • ‘And during the negotiations, about 3,700 acres of coastal sage scrub were destroyed.’
      • ‘Coastal rock and scrub habitats are easily distinguished by the species present and by the geographical location.’
      • ‘At last, there are plans to turn the scrub into a proper park.’
      • ‘Covered with scrub, native mesquite trees and low wild grasses, the desert site slopes gently down to the south.’
      • ‘The first division separated inland forest from inland scrub habitats.’
      • ‘Scrubby flatwoods are commonly adjacent to or intermixed and integrated with rosemary scrub.’
      brush, brushwood, scrubland, undergrowth, coppice, copse, thicket
      View synonyms
  • 2[as modifier] Denoting a shrubby or small form of a plant:

    ‘scrub apple trees’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Basal diameter and height of each scrub oak stem within the plot were recorded.’
    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’
      • ‘They said that he was a scrub and would never do anything that good - unfortunately he did.’
      • ‘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.’
    2. 3.2
      short for scrubber
  • 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’
    • ‘Fact is, probably you and I would have had a great summer playing scrub in Dallas together when we were kids.’
    • ‘‘The kids in the neighborhood would play on a vacant corner lot, choosing up sides and playing scrub,’ she told me.’
    • ‘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/