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A pile of rubbish in India

From Middle English rǒbǒus (rubbish, building rubble), further origin uncertain; possibly from Anglo-Norman rubous, rubouse, rubbouse (refuse, waste material; building rubble), and compare Late Latin rebbussa, robousa, robusium, robusum, rubisum, rubusa, rubusium[1] (although the Anglo-Norman and Latin words may be derived from the English word instead of the other way around). The English word may be related to rubble, though the connection is unclear.[2]

The verb is derived from the noun.[3]



rubbish (uncountable)

  1. (chiefly Australia, New Zealand, Britain) Garbage, junk, refuse, trash, waste.
    The rubbish is collected every Thursday in Gloucester, but on Wednesdays in Cheltenham.
  2. (chiefly Australia, New Zealand, Britain) Items of low quality.
    Much of what they sell is rubbish.
  3. (chiefly Australia, New Zealand, Britain) 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?
  4. (archaic) Debris or ruins of buildings.
    • 1697, Virgil; John Dryden, transl., “The Eighth Book of the Æneis”, in The Works of Virgil: [], London: Printed for Jacob Tonson, [], OCLC 403869432, lines 252–255, page 441:
      See, from afar, yon Rock that mates the Sky, / About whoſe Feet ſuch Heaps of Rubbiſh lye: / Such indigeſted Ruin; bleak and bare, / How deſart now it ſtands, expos'd in Air!
    • a. 1701, John Dryden, “Annus Mirabilis: The Year of Wonders, 1666”, in The Miscellaneous Works of John Dryden, [], volume I, London: Printed for J[acob] and R[ichard] Tonson, [], published 1760, OCLC 863244003, stanza 280, page 131:
      At length th' Almighty caſt a pitying eye, / And mercy ſoftly touch'd his melting breaſt: / He ſaw the town's one half in rubbiſh lie, / And eager flames drive on to ſtorm the reſt.


Alternative formsEdit

Derived termsEdit

Terms derived from rubbish (noun)

Related termsEdit


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.


rubbish (comparative more rubbish, superlative most rubbish)

  1. (chiefly Australia, New Zealand, Britain, colloquial) Exceedingly bad; awful.
    Synonyms: abysmal, crappy, horrendous, shitty, terrible; see also Thesaurus:bad, Thesaurus:low-quality
    This has been a rubbish day, and it’s about to get worse: my mother-in-law is coming to stay.
    • 1989 June, Phil Snout [pseudonym; Phil South], “Rage Hard”, in Matt Bielby, editor, Your Sinclair, number 42, London: Dennis Publishing, ISSN 0269-6983, OCLC 1065267228, page 82, column 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 Australia, New Zealand, Britain, colloquial)

  1. Used to express that something is exceedingly bad, awful, or terrible.
    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. Used to express that what was recently said is nonsense or untrue; balderdash!, nonsense!
    Synonyms: bollocks, bullshit
    Rubbish! I did nothing of the sort!



rubbish (third-person singular simple present rubbishes, present participle rubbishing, simple past and past participle rubbished)

  1. (transitive, chiefly Australia, New Zealand, Britain, colloquial) To criticize, to denigrate, to denounce, to disparage. [from c. 1950s (Australia, New Zealand)]

Derived termsEdit



  1. ^ rǒbǒus, n.” in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 27 December 2018.
  2. ^ rubbish, n., adj., and int.”, in OED Online  , Oxford: Oxford University Press, March 2011.
  3. ^ rubbish, v.”, in OED Online  , Oxford: Oxford University Press, March 2011.

Further readingEdit