Word Origin & History
"rub hard," c.1300, perhaps from M.Du. or M.L.G. schrubben "to scrub," or from an unrecorded O.E. cognate, or from a Scand. source (cf. Dan. skrubbe "to scrub"), probably ult. from some cognate of shrub, used as a cleaning tool (cf. the evolution of broom, brush). Meaning "to cancel" is attested from
1828 (popularized during World War II with ref. to flights), probably from notion of "to rub out, erase." The noun is recorded from 1621.
"brush, shrubs," late 14c., "low, stunted tree," variant of shrobbe (see shrub
), perhaps infl. by a Scandinavian word (cf. Dan. dial. skrub "a stunted tree, brushwood"). Collective sense is attested from 1805. Transferred sense of "mean, insignificant fellow" is from 1580s;
U.S. sports meaning "athlete not on the varsity team" is recorded from 1892.