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Etymology 1[edit]

rub +‎ -er

The substance was originally named for its ability to function as an eraser. The senses not having to do with rubbing or erasing are secondarily derived from the name of the substance.


rubber (usually uncountable, plural rubbers)

  1. (uncountable) Pliable material derived from the sap of the rubber tree; a hydrocarbon polymer of isoprene.
  2. (uncountable, countable) Synthetic materials with the same properties as natural rubber.
  3. (countable, Britain, New Zealand) An eraser.
    • 2006, Lisa Kervin, Research for Educators, page 148,
      For example, they may use paddle pop sticks, hand span, pencils, rubbers, mathematics equipment (i.e. base 10 material) or anything else the teacher can find to measure the lengths of nominated objects.
    • 2010, Anna Jacobs, Beyond the Sunset, unnumbered page,
      Drawing materials, he thought, I used to love drawing as a lad. I can afford some plain paper and pencils, surely? And a rubber, too. He smiled at the memory of an elderly uncle, also fond of drawing, who′d always called rubbers ‘lead eaters’.
    • 2011, Patrick Lindsay, The Spirit of the Digger, Revised edition, unnumbered page,
      Stan stole a diary and some pens, pencils, ink and rubbers during his early days as a POW working on the Singapore docks.
  4. (countable, Canada, US, slang) A condom.
  5. (countable) Someone or something which rubs.
    • 1949, LIFE (11 July 1949, page 21)
      What perplexity plagues the chin-rubber in the foreground and what so discourages the man leaning on the lamp post? And to what doom is the large man at right moving? Photographer Cowherd has no answers.
  6. (countable, baseball) The rectangular pad on the pitcher's mound from which the pitcher must pitch.
    Jones toes the rubber and then fires to the plate.
  7. (Canada, US, in the plural) Water resistant shoe covers, galoshes, overshoes.
    Johnny, don't forget your rubbers today.
  8. (uncountable, slang) Tires, particularly racing tires.
    Jones enters the pits to get new rubber.
Derived terms[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.



  1. (slang, of a draft/check) Not covered by funds on account.
Usage notes[edit]

The use of this word to refer to a check that has insufficient funds is that the colloquial term for that happening is that the check will "bounce," consequently, a check that will immediately bounce is referred to as "rubber" or a "rubber check."


Etymology 2[edit]

Origin unknown.


rubber (plural rubbers)

  1. (sports) In relation to a series of games or matches between two competitors where the overall winner of the series is the competitor which wins a majority of the individual games or matches:
    1. The entire series, of an odd number of games or matches in which ties are impossible (especially a series of three games in bridge or whist).
      • 1828 Robert Huish The Red Barn: A Tale, Founded on Fact p.83:
        They played, and Creed and his young partner won the first rubber, winning the two first games running.
      • 1907 May 25, in The Publishers' Weekly, number 1843, page 1608 [1]:
        [] an old lady's innocent rubber.
    2. An individual match within the series (especially in racquet sports).
  2. (sports, Canada, US) a rubber match; a game or match played to break a tie.
  3. The game of rubber bridge.
    Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Red-Headed League
    "Still, I confess that I miss my rubber. It is the first Saturday night for seven-and-twenty years that I have not had my rubber." "I think you will find that you will play for a higher stake to-night than you have ever done yet, and that the play will be more exciting."
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 3[edit]

EB1911 - Volume 01 - Page 001 - 1.svg This entry lacks etymological information. If you are familiar with the origin of this term, please add it to the page per etymology instructions. You can also discuss it at the Etymology scriptorium.


rubber (third-person singular simple present rubbers, present participle rubbering, simple past and past participle rubbered)

  1. (telephony) To eavesdrop on a telephone call
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Borrowed from English rubber.


  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: rub‧ber


rubber n (plural rubbers, diminutive rubbertje n)

  1. (uncountable) rubber (pliable material derived from the sap of the rubber tree)
  2. piece of rubber used in machines
  3. a condom

Derived terms[edit]