English Wikipedia has an article on:


  • enPR: skrŭb, IPA(key): /skɹʌb/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ʌb

Etymology 1Edit

Variant of shrub, possibly under Norse influence. This etymology is incomplete. You can help Wiktionary by elaborating on the origins of this term.


scrub (comparative more scrub, superlative most scrub)

  1. Mean; dirty; contemptible; scrubby.


scrub (plural scrubs)

  1. One who labors hard and lives meanly; a mean fellow.
    • 1678, John Bunyan, The Pilgrim's Progress
      A sorry scrub, said Mr. High-mind.
    • 1766, Oliver Goldsmith, The Vicar of Wakefield
      We should go there in as proper a manner possible; nor altogether like the scrubs about us.
    • 1999, TLC (band), "No Scrubs" (song)
      A scrub is a guy that thinks he's fly
      And is also known as a buster
      Always talkin' about what he wants
      And just sits on his broke ass []
  2. One who is incompetent or unable to complete easy tasks.
    What a scrub! Instead of washing the dishes she put the used food on her face!
  3. A thicket or jungle, often specified by the name of the prevailing plant
    oak scrub
    • 1913, Joseph C. Lincoln, chapter 1, in Mr. Pratt's Patients:
      I stumbled along through the young pines and huckleberry bushes. Pretty soon I struck into a sort of path that, I cal'lated, might lead to the road I was hunting for. It twisted and turned, and, the first thing I knew, made a sudden bend around a bunch of bayberry scrub and opened out into a big clear space like a lawn.
  4. (US, stock breeding) One of the common livestock of a region of no particular breed or not of pure breed, especially when inferior in size, etc. Often used to refer to male animals unsuited for breeding.
  5. Vegetation of inferior quality, though sometimes thick and impenetrable, growing in poor soil or in sand; also, brush.
  6. One not on the first team of players; a substitute.
  7. (obsolete, slang) Informal attire or dress code; morning dress
    • 1876, “Hightum, Titum, and Scrub!”, in The Leisure Hour[1]:
      The third, which was as homely as its name, and which she reserved for scouring the country and such like rough usage in quite private rural life, was her "Scrub."
    • 1920, Benson, E. F., Queen Lucia[2]:
      For one of Lucia's quaint ideas was to divide dresses into three classes, "Hightum," "Tightum" and "Scrub."
Derived termsEdit

Etymology 2Edit

English Wikipedia has an article on:

From Middle English scrobben (groom a horse with a currycomb); from Middle Dutch schrobben (clean by scrubbing).


scrub (third-person singular simple present scrubs, present participle scrubbing, simple past and past participle scrubbed)

  1. (transitive) To rub hard; to wash with rubbing; usually, to rub with a wet brush, or with something coarse or rough, for the purpose of cleaning or brightening
    to scrub a floor
    to scrub your fingernails
  2. (intransitive) To rub anything hard, especially with a wet brush; to scour
  3. (intransitive, figuratively) To be diligent and penurious
    to scrub hard for a living
  4. (transitive) To call off a scheduled event; to cancel.
    Engineers had to scrub the satellite launch due to bad weather.
  5. (databases, transitive) To eliminate or to correct data from a set of records to bring it inline with other similar datasets
    The street segment data from the National Post Office will need to be scrubbed before it can be integrated into our system.
  6. (audio) To move a recording tape back and forth with a scrubbing motion to produce a scratching sound, or to do so by a similar use of a control on an editing system.
  7. (audio, video) To maneuver the play position on a media editing system by using a scroll bar or touch-based interface.
    Synonym: seek
Derived termsEdit


scrub (plural scrubs)

  1. An instance of scrubbing.
  2. A cancellation.
    • 1988, AIAA 26th Aerospace Sciences Meeting: January 11-14
      Unacceptable winds aloft caused four scrubs and one hold; adverse weather caused a scrub; []
  3. A worn-out brush.
    • 1752, Robert Ainsworth, Thesaurus Linguae Latinae Compendiarius:
      A scrub [broom worn out] Scopa detrita.
  4. One who scrubs.
  5. (medicine, in the plural) Clothing worn while performing surgery.
  6. (by extension, in the plural) Any medical uniform consisting of a short-sleeved shirt and pants (trousers).
    • 2014, Jeff Jacobson, Growth (page 23)
      A man dressed as a lab tech, his blue scrubs startlingly pale against the vivid red and black chaos, moved into sight from behind the SUV. He carried an assault rifle.
  7. An exfoliant for the body.


Middle EnglishEdit



  1. Alternative form of schrub