c. 1400, scrobben, "to rub hard; rub or scratch (someone, an animal)," a variant of shrubben (c. 1300), which is perhaps from Middle Dutch or Middle Low German schrubben, schrobben "to scrub," or from an unrecorded Old English cognate of these, or from a Scandinavian source (such as Danish skrubbe "to scrub"). Probably ultimately from the Proto-Germanic root of shrub, an ancient cleaning tool. Compare the evolution of broom, brush (n.1), also compare scrub (n.1).
Meaning "to cancel" is attested from 1828, probably from notion of "to rub out, erase" an entry on a listing. It was popularized during World War II with reference to air missions. Related: Scrubbed; scrubbing.
late 14c., "a low, stunted tree; a shrub," variant of shrobbe, from Old English scrybb, scrub (see shrub, which is the common form of the same word), perhaps influenced by a cognate Scandinavian word (such as Danish dialectal skrub, Old Danish skrubbe, "a stunted tree, brushwood").
The collective sense of "brush, stunted trees, shrubs; a tract of these" is attested by 1805. Transferred sense of "mean, insignificant fellow" is from 1580s; earlier it meant a small breed of cattle (1550s). The U.S. sports meaning "athlete not on the varsity team" is recorded from 1892, probably from this "insignificant" sense, but compare scrub "hard-working servant, drudge" (1709), which is perhaps from influence of scrub (v.).
As an adjective from 1710, "of inferior breed or stunted growth," from the noun. Scrub oak for a kind of low American species, is recorded from 1766.
1620s, "act of scrubbing," from scrub (v.). Meaning "thing that is used in scrubbing" is from 1680s. By 1952 as "act of cancellation, an abandonment."
1680s, "rubbing with a hard brush," verbal noun from scrub (v.). Scrubbing-brush is from 1680s. Scrubbing-board "washboard, corrugated board on which clothes are scrubbed" is by 1889.
also *ker-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to cut."
It forms all or part of: bias; carnage; carnal; carnation; carnival; carnivorous; carrion; cenacle; charcuterie; charnel; corium; cortex; crone; cuirass; currier; curt; decorticate; excoriate; incarnadine; incarnate; incarnation; kirtle; scabbard; scar (n.2) "bare and broken rocky face of a cliff or mountain;" scaramouche; scarf (n.2) "connecting joint;" scarp; score; scrabble; scrap (n.1) "small piece;" scrape; screen; screw; scrimmage; scrofula; scrub (n.1) "low, stunted tree;" scurf; shard; share (n.1) "portion;" share (n.2) "iron blade of a plow;" sharp; shear; shears; sheer (adj.) "absolute, utter;" shirt; shore (n.) "land bordering a large body of water;" short; shrub; skerry; skirmish; skirt.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit krnati "hurts, wounds, kills," krntati "cuts;" Hittite karsh- "to cut off;" Greek keirein "to cut, shear;" Latin curtus "short," caro (genitive carnis) "flesh" (originally "piece of flesh"); Lithuanian skiriu, skirti "to separate;" Old English sceran, scieran "to cleave, hew, cut with a sharp instrument;" Old Irish scaraim "I separate;" Welsh ysgar "to separate," ysgyr "fragment."
"dense scrub or brushwood in a Mediterranean land," 1858, from French maquis "undergrowth, shrub," especially in reference to the dense scrub of certain Mediterranean coastal regions, long the haunts of outlaws and fugitives, from Corsican Italian macchia "spot," from Latin macula "spot, stain" (see macula). The landscapes were so called from their mottled appearance. Used figuratively of French resistance in World War II (1943). A member is a maquisard.
"motherless calf in a herd," 1887, cowboy slang, of uncertain origin. It may have had an earlier, more specific meaning:
What is called a "dogie" is a scrub Texas yearling. Dogies are the tailings of a mixed herd of cattle which have failed of a ready sale while on the market. They are picked up finally by purchasers in search of cheap cattle; but investments in such stock are risky and have proven to be disastrous this winter. [The Breeder's Gazette, March 5, 1885]
"detective," 1866, U.S. slang, from name of the detective in "The Ticket-of-Leave Man," 1863 play by English dramatist Tom Taylor (1817-1880); it later was used in the comic strip "Hawkshaw the Detective" (1913-1947) by U.S. cartoonist Gus Mager (1878-1956). The surname is attested from late 13c., from a place name in Lancashire, with shaw "undergrowth, woodland, scrub," from Old English sceaga.