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From Middle English robous, from Anglo-Norman rubouses, of unknown origin; presumably ultimately from Proto-Germanic *raub- (to break) (from whence rob, via meaning “plunder, destroy”). Related to rubble.[1][2] In verb sense “to criticize”, attested 1953 in Australian and New Zealand slang.[1]


  • IPA(key): /ˈɹʌbɪʃ/
  • Hyphenation: rub‧bish
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rubbish (comparative more rubbish, superlative most rubbish)

  1. (chiefly Australia, New Zealand, Britain, colloquial) Exceedingly bad; awful; terrible; crappy.
    This has been a rubbish day, and it's about to get worse: my mother-in-law is coming to stay.
    • 1989, Phil South, Rage Hard (in Your Sinclair magazine, June 1989) [1]
      Disk interfaces have been around since the year dot, as people soon realised that the microdrive was unreliable, unstable and generally rubbish for the storage of anything, useless except as a rather small beermat.



rubbish! (chiefly Britain, Australia, New Zealand)

  1. (colloquial) Expresses that something is exceedingly bad, terrible or awful.
    The one day I actually practice my violin, the teacher cancels the lesson.
    Aw, rubbish! Though at least this means you have time to play football...
  2. Expresses that what was recently said is untruth or nonsense.
    Rubbish! I did nothing of the sort!




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rubbish (uncountable) (chiefly Britain, Australia, New Zealand)

  1. Garbage, junk, refuse, waste.
    The rubbish is collected every Thursday in Gloucester, but on Wednesdays in Cheltenham.
  2. Nonsense.
    Everything the teacher said during that lesson was rubbish. How can she possibly think that a bass viol and a cello are the same thing?
  3. (archaic) ruins or debris of buildings.
    • 1697, Template:John Dryden translating Virgil, Aeneid Book 8
      See, from afar, yon rock that mates the sky,
      whose feet such heaps of rubbish lie;
      Such indigested ruin; bleak and bare,
      How desart now it stands, expos'd in air!He saw the town's one half in rubbish lie.


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rubbish (third-person singular simple present rubbishes, present participle rubbishing, simple past and past participle rubbished) (chiefly Britain, Australia, New Zealand)

  1. To denounce, to criticise, to denigrate, to disparage.

Derived terms[edit]



  1. 1.0 1.1 rubbish” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2017.
  2. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition