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rub  - definition and synonyms


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verb rub pronunciation in American English /rʌb/
Word Forms
present tense
present participlerubbing
past tenserubbed
past participlerubbed
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  1. 1
    [intransitive/transitive] to press and move your hands or an object over a surface
    rub something off something:

    Rub the skins of the peppers off when they have softened.

    1. a.
      to move something such as a cloth backward and forward across a surface to clean it, dry it, or make it smooth
      rub something off something:

      He rubbed the dirt off the license plate with his sleeve.

    2. b.
      to move your hand backward and forward across a part of someone’s body while pressing firmly, especially because that part of the body hurts

      Scott gently rubbed her back until the pain went away.

  2. 2
    [transitive] to press and move one object against another or against a surface
    rub something together:

    Rub your hands together, it will help you to stay warm.

    rub something against something:

    The cat rubbed its cheek against my leg.

    1. a.
      to press and move against an object or a surface

      The cow rubbed against the fence.

    2. b.
      [intransitive] British to hurt or damage something by continuously pressing and moving against it

      Cindy’s new shoes were rubbing and giving her blisters.

  3. 3
    [transitive] to spread a liquid or substance onto the surface of something
    rub something on something:

    She rubbed some tanning oil on his back.

    rub something with something:

    Rub the chicken with garlic before putting it in the oven.

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