hey rube

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Used since approximately 1935; from a shortening of the given name Reuben. It originated as a cry used by circus workers, possibly because of the connotations of the name Reuben as belonging to someone living in the rural USA.[1]



hey rube

  1. A call to rally circus members in a fight.


hey rube ‎(plural hey rubes)

  1. A fight between members of a circus and the general public.
    • 2006, Sara Gruen, Water for Elephants
      "I said 'Shut it, Camel! I'm dealing with a situation here.' Walter says. /.'What kind of situation?' says Camel. / "'Jacob's messed up.' / "'What? How? Was there a hey rube?'"
  2. (by extension) Any fight or conflict, especially a rowdy and informal one.


  1. ^ Oxford Dictionary of Modern Slang, edited by John Ayto and John Simpson, 1997, Oxford University Press: Oxford, p. 129.