the rub

Idioms & Phrases

the rub

The difficulty or problem, as in We'd love to come but there's the rubwe can't get reservations. This expression may come from lawn bowling, where rub refers to an unevenness in the ground that impedes the ball. Its most famous use is in one of Hamlet's soliloquies (Hamlet, 3:1): "To sleep, perchance to dreamay, there's the rub, For in that sleep of death what dreams may come ... Must give us pause." [Late 1500s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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