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From Middle English rouble, rubel, robel, robeil, from Anglo-Norman *robel (bits of broken stone). Presumably related to rubbish, originally of same meaning (waste material, bits of stone, rubble).[1] Ultimately presumably from Old Norse rubba (to huddle, crowd together, heap up", possibly also "to rub, scrape), from Proto-Germanic *rubbōną (to rub, scrape), related to Proto-Germanic *reufaną (to tear), *raubōną (to rob, steal, plunder), perhaps via Old French robe (English rob (steal)) in sense of “plunder, destroy”;[2] see also Middle English, Middle French -el.


  • IPA(key): /ˈɹʌb.əl/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ʌbəl


rubble (countable and uncountable, plural rubbles)

  1. The broken remains of an object, usually rock or masonry.
    • 1976 September, Saul Bellow, Humboldt’s Gift, New York, N.Y.: Avon Books, →ISBN, page 72:
      The old boulevard now was a sagging ruin, waiting for the wreckers. … You'd have to loathe yourself vividly to be indifferent to such destruction or, worse, rejoice at the crushing of the locus of these middle-class settlements, glad that history had made rubble of them.
    • 2013 June 29, “High and wet”, in The Economist, volume 407, number 8842, page 28:
      Floods in northern India, mostly in the small state of Uttarakhand, have wrought disaster on an enormous scale. [] Rock-filled torrents smashed vehicles and homes, burying victims under rubble and sludge.
  2. (geology) A mass or stratum of fragments of rock lying under the alluvium and derived from the neighbouring rock.
    • 1855, Sir Charles Lyell, A Manual of Elementary Geology:
      The overlying beds are composed of such calcareous rubble and flints, rudely stratified
  3. (UK, dialect, in the plural) The whole of the bran of wheat before it is sorted into pollard, bran, etc.[3].

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  1. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition
  2. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2023), “rubble”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.
  3. ^ 1858, Peter Lund Simmonds, The Dictionary of Trade Products