Meaning of “rub” in the English Dictionary

"rub" in English

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rubverb [ I or T ]

uk /rʌb/ us /rʌb/ -bb-

B2 to press or be pressed against something with a circular or up-and-down repeated movement:

She yawned and rubbed her eyes sleepily.
He rubbed (at) the stain on his trousers and made it worse.
We rubbed some polish into the surface of the wood.
She gently rubbed the ointment in.
First rub the baking tray well with butter.
[ + obj + adj ] Alice rubbed the blackboard clean for the teacher.
Your cat keeps on rubbing itself (up) against my leg.
She was rubbing her hands (together) at the thought of winning.
The branches rubbed against each other in the wind.
The chair legs have rubbed holes in the carpet.
My new shoes are rubbing (against/on my toe) and now I've got blisters.
These marks will never rub off (= be cleaned off).
Alice rubbed the sums off (= cleaned them off) the blackboard for the teacher.

More examples

rubnoun [ C ]

uk /rʌb/ us /rʌb/

the rub


the particular problem that makes a situation difficult or impossible:

You can't get a job unless you have experience, but there's the rub, you can't get experience unless you have a job.

(Definition of “rub” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"rub" in American English

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rubverb [ I/T ]

us /rʌb/ -bb-

to press or be pressed against something with a repeated circular, side to side, or up and down movement:

[ T ] I rubbed the place where I bumped my head.
[ T ] If you rub linseed oil into the wood, it will protect it.

rubnoun [ C ]

us /rʌb/

The rub is something that prevents success:

She got good reviews for her original cooking, but the rub was that people wanted very traditional dishes.

(Definition of “rub” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)