- rub (v.)
- late 14c., perhaps related to East Frisian rubben "to scratch, rub," and Low German rubbeling "rough, uneven," or similar words in Scandinavian (cf. Danish rubbe "to rub, scrub," Norwegian rubba), of uncertain origin. Related: Rubbed; rubbing.
Hamlet's there's the rub (1602) preserves a noun sense of "obstacle, inequality on ground" first recorded 1580s and common in 17c. To rub (someone) the wrong way is from 1853, probably the notion is of cats. To rub noses in greeting as a sign of friendship (attested from 1822) formerly was common among Eskimos, Maoris, and some other Pacific Islanders. Rub out "obliterate" is from 1560s; underworld slang sense of "kill" is recorded from 1848, American English. Rub off "have an influence on" is recorded from 1959.