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early 14c., transitive and intransitive, of uncertain origin, 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.
To rub (someone) the wrong way is from 1853; probably the notion is of cats' fur. 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 "remove by rubbing" is from 1590s; meaning "have an influence" is recorded from 1959.
"act of rubbing," 1610s, from rub (v.); earlier "obstacle, inequality on ground" (1580s, common in 17c.) which is the figure in Hamlet's there's the rub (1602).
The application of friction and pressure.
Such a procedure applied to the body.
one of the most universal and perhaps the oldest of the techniques used in printmaking. Rubbings are made by carefully pressing paper onto a carved or incised surface so that the paper conforms to the features to be copied. The paper is then blacked and the projecting areas of the surface become dark, while indented areas remain white. In East Asia, a special ink is used, and in the West, a mixture of wax and carbon black, called heelball, is rubbed onto the paper. A carefully made rubbing provides an accurate, full-scale facsimile of the surface reproduced.