rub out

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rub out (third-person singular simple present rubs out, present participle rubbing out, simple past and past participle rubbed out)

  1. (transitive) To delete or erase or remove (something) by rubbing.
    The teacher wanted to rub out the chalk marks on the blackboard.
  2. (obsolete) To get by; to live.
  3. (transitive, criminal slang) To kill, especially to murder.
    • 1942, James Thurber, The Catbird Seat:
      It was just a week to the day since Mr. Martin had decided to rub out Mrs. Ulgine Barrows.
    • 2004, David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas
      'Mr Grimaldi,' fills in Smoke, 'what I believe Fay has too much tact to spit out and say is this: the Rey woman might be imagining we rubbed out Dr Sixsmith.'

Usage notes[edit]

  • In both senses the object may appear before or after the particle. If the object is a pronoun, then it must be before the particle.


See also[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.