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Etymology 1[edit]

This definition is lacking an etymology or has an incomplete etymology. You can help Wiktionary by giving it a proper etymology.


scrub (comparative more scrub, superlative most scrub)

  1. Mean; dirty; contemptible; scrubby.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Walpole
      How solitary, how scrub, does this town look!
    • (Can we date this quote?), Jonathan Swift
      No little scrub joint shall come on my board.


scrub (plural scrubs)

  1. One who labors hard and lives meanly; a mean fellow.
    • John Bunyan, A Pilgrim's Promise
      a sorry scrub
    • Oliver Goldsmith, The Vicar of Wakefield
      We should go there in as proper a manner possible; nor altogether like the scrubs about us.
  2. A worn-out brush.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Ainsworth to this entry?)
  3. One who is incompetent or unable to complete easy tasks.
    You are such a scrub! Instead of washing the dishes you put the used food on your face!
  4. A thicket or jungle, often specified by the name of the prevailing plant; as, oak scrub, palmetto scrub, etc.
    • 1913, Joseph C. Lincoln, chapter 1, Mr. Pratt's Patients:
      I stumbled along through the young pines and huckleberry bushes. Pretty soon I struck into a sort of path that, I cal'lated, might lead to the road I was hunting for. It twisted and turned, and, the first thing I knew, made a sudden bend around a bunch of bayberry scrub and opened out into a big clear space like a lawn.
  5. (US, stock breeding) One of the common livestock of a region of no particular breed or not of pure breed, especially when inferior in size, etc. Often used to refer to male animals unsuited for breeding.
  6. Vegetation of inferior quality, though sometimes thick and impenetrable, growing in poor soil or in sand; also, brush.
  7. One not on the first team of players, a substitute.
Derived terms[edit]
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English scrobben (groom a horse with a currycomb); From Middle Dutch schrobben (clean by scrubbing)


scrub (third-person singular simple present scrubs, present participle scrubbing, simple past and past participle scrubbed)

  1. (transitive) To rub hard; to wash with rubbing; usually, to rub with a wet brush, or with something coarse or rough, for the purpose of cleaning or brightening; as, to scrub a floor, a doorplate.
  2. (intransitive) To rub anything hard, especially with a wet brush; to scour;
  3. (intransitive, figuratively) To be diligent and penurious; as, to scrub hard for a living.
  4. (transitive) To call off a scheduled event; to cancel.
    Engineers had to scrub the satellite launch due to bad weather.
  5. (databases, transitive) To eliminate or to correct data from a set of records to bring it inline with other similar datasets
    The street segment data from the National Post Office will need to be scrubbed before it can be integrated into our system.
  6. (audio) To move a recording tape back and forth with a scrubbing-like motion to produce a scratching sound, or to do so by a similar use of a control on an editing system.
  7. (audio, video) To maneuver the play position on a media editing system by using a scroll bar.


scrub (plural scrubs)

  1. An instance of scrubbing.
  2. A cancellation.
  3. A worn-out brush.
  4. One who scrubs.
  5. (medicine, in the plural) Clothing worn while performing surgery.
  6. An exfoliant for the body.