From the second edition (1989):
rubber, n.1
(ˈrʌbə(r)) [f. rub v.1 + -er1.]


I. 1. a. A hard brush, a cloth, or the like, used for rubbing in order to make clean. Now rare.

1536 Wardr. Acc. Hen. VIII in Archaeol. IX. 245 One dussen brushes, and one dussen and a halfe of rubbers delyvered to like use into oure saide warderobe of our roobis. 1558 Warde tr. Alexis' Secr. i. v. 90 To die hogges brystels and other thinges, for to make rubbers and brusshes. 1598 Florio, Scuraccio, a skouring cloth, a dish-clout, a skourer, a rubber. 1634 Althorp MS. in Simpkinson Washingtons (1860) App. p. lxviii, For small cordes to bynde the rubbers for the parlour. 1730 Bailey (fol.). 1793 Wolcot (P. Pindar) Ep. to the Pope Wks. 1812 III. 206 Make a good Rubber of the Virgin's Wig. 1880– in Eng. Dial. Dict.


b. A strigil. Obs.

1581 Mulcaster Positions xxxiv. (1887) 123 They disrobed themselues, and were chafed with a gentle kinde of rubber. 1603 Holland Plutarch's Mor. 170 Like as Theocritus served twaine who would seeme to borrow of him his rubber or currying combe in the very baine. 1623 Bingham Xenophon 4 Xenias the Arcadian solemnized the Playes, called Lycæa, and proposed games. The games were Golden rubbers.


c. A towel used for rubbing the body after a bath. (See also quot. 1875.)

1577 tr. Bullinger's Decades (1592) 103 Let vs forbid to bring napkins and rubbars to Jupiter. 1598 Florio, Pannetto, a little cloth,‥a towell, a rubber, a kercher. 1637 Massinger Guardian ii. v, I must not forget‥The silver bathing-tub, the cambric rubbers, The embroider'd quilt. 1693 Dryden Juvenal iii. (1697) 66 The‥servants lay The Rubbers, and the Bathing-sheets display.
1875 Knight Dict. Mech. 1997/1 Rubber,‥a coarse, unbleached flax toweling for rubbing the body after bathing. b. A coarse towel used for drying horses.


2. A tooth-powder or dentifrice. Obs. rare.

1558 Warde tr. Alexis' Secr. Table, Dentifrices or rubbers for the teeth, of great perfection for to make them cleane. 1594 Plat Jewell-ho. iii. 74 Sweet and delicate dentifrices or rubbers for the teeth.


3. A whetstone, rubstone. Now dial. †Also rubber-stone.

1566 Withals Dict. 19/2 A rubber stone to sharpe the sieth, hooke, or other instrumentes with, cos acuaria. 1609 C. Butler Fem. Mon. (1634) 36 Rub it [the hive] well with a Rubber; which is a piece of rough grind-stone or sand-stone, as great as your hand can hold. a1728 Woodward Nat. Hist. Fossils (1729) 18 This‥is used for whetting of Scithes, and‥is call'd Sand-Stone, Coarse-Scithe-Stone, or Rubber. 1854 A. E. Baker Northampt. Gloss., Rubber, a coarse sandstone whetstone, for a scythe.‥ The name is also given to a shoemaker's whetstone. 1880 Jefferies Hodge & M. II. 122 [He] searches for the rubber or whetstone, stuck somewhere in the side of the rick.


4. a. An implement of metal or stone used for rubbing, esp. in order to smooth or flatten a surface.

1664 Evelyn Sylva xxx. 102 Two or three days it will only require for cooling, which‥they resist, by taking now off the outward covering with a Rabil or Rubber. 1794 Rigging & Seamanship 88 Rubber, a small iron instrument, in a wooden handle, to rub down or flatten the seams. 1850 Holtzapffel Turning III. 1089 The Rubber used by Masons and Statuaries is frequently a slab of grit stone, to which a handle is attached by means of an iron strap. 1852 C. Morfit Tanning, etc. (1853) 166 It is a bad practice to use the slate, or rubber‥, which being rough, may scratch and damage the hide upon its grain side. 1875 Knight Dict. Mech. 1997/1 In the moldings of stone, an iron rubber mounted on a wooden stock is employed for fillets, beads, and astragals.


b. A piece or quantity of some soft material made into a pad or roll and used for rubbing and polishing.

1816 W. Y. Ottley Inquiry Origin & Early Hist. Engraving I. 81 The friction of a rubber, made of hair, or of pieces of cloth, was then applied to the paper, which was thus rubbed backwards and forwards till the impression of the engraving was transferred to the paper. 1837 Penny Cycl. s.v. Engraving, A rubber is a roll of cloth tied up tight, one end being kept in olive oil. 1839 Ure Dict. Arts s.v. Marble, The polishing rubbers are coarse-linen cloths, or bagging, wedged tight into an iron planing tool. 1865 Brande & Cox Dict. Sci., etc. s.v. Engraving, Engravers use a roll of woollen or felt called a rubber, which is put in action with a little olive oil. 1875 Ure's Dict. Arts s.v. Pottery, It is‥rubbed‥afterwards with a rubber formed of rolled flannel.


c. An article usu. consisting of a soft pad attached to a wooden handle, used for erasing chalk from a blackboard.

1880 [see blackboard]. 1978 P. Marsh et al. Rules of Disorder ii. 38 They just started‥chucking wooden dice at her‥and blackboard rubbers.


5. A large, coarse file. Also rubber-file.

1677 Moxon Mech. Exerc., Handyworks i. 14 The Rough or Course Tooth'd File (which if it be large is called a Rubber). 1837 Whittock Bk. Trades (1842) 225 The very heavy files, such as smiths' ‘rubbers’, are made of the inferior marks of blistered steel. 1846 Holtzapffel Turning II. 825 Rubbers‥measure from 12 to 18 inches long,‥and are made very convex. 1875 Knight Dict. Mech. 1997/2 Rubber-file, a heavy, fish-bellied file, designated by weight, which varies from four to fifteen pounds.


6. A part of some apparatus which operates by rubbing; a machine which acts by rubbing. Also, †a brake acting by friction on the wheels of a vehicle.

1771 Encycl. Brit. II. 475/1 The best rubbers for globes are made of red basil skins. 1787 Phil. Trans. LXXVIII. 22 A part of the rubber‥must serve to furnish the electric fluid to the glass. 1819 Gentl. Mag. LXXXIX. i. 351 Instead of a straight edge and levers for the adjustment of the ink, a leather rubber and screws have been adopted [in printing]. 1825 J. Nicholson Operat. Mechanic 160 Every article required to be broke or ground is exposed to the application of rubbers or crushers, resting on their fulcrums. 1844 H. Stephens Bk. Farm II. 328 The drum, or, as I would call it, the rubber,‥does not‥thrash by beating, but by rubbing the grain against a wire grating. 1850 R. Glisan Jrnl. Army Life (1874) iv. 32 The third one [sc. vehicle], having no rubbers or brakes to the wheels, went so fast, down a steep hill, that the driver was thrown from his seat. 1881 Raymond Mining Gloss., Rubber, a gold-quartz amalgamator, in which the slime is rubbed against amalgamated copper surfaces. 1894 T. B. Searight Old Pike 145 The ‘rubber’, called brake at this day, was not in use when the National Road was first thrown open for trade and travel. Instead,‥saplings, cut at the summit of the hills, were shaped and fashioned to answer the ends of the ‘rubber’, and at the foot of the hills taken off and left on the roadside.
attrib. 1834–6 in Encycl. Metrop. (1845) VIII. 704/1 The most essential part of this machine consists of the rubber~boards. 1843 Penny Cycl. XXV. 425/1 The rubber-carriage T being moved along the bar B [etc.].


7. A brick which is rubbed smooth.

1825 J. Nicholson Operat. Mechanic 535 The best kind are used as cutting bricks, and are called red rubbers. In old buildings they are very frequently to be seen ground to a fine smooth surface. 1898 19th Ann. Rep. U.S. Geol. Survey vi. b. 407 A second kind, and one much used in London for fronts, is a large, light-red brick, so soft as to be readily scratched by the knife. These are called ‘rubbers’. 1977 Listener 20 Oct. 519/4 There is quality, too, in the kind of bricks still known as ‘rubbers’—ones that have been hand~rubbed on all surfaces to achieve an immaculate join.


II. 8. a. One who applies friction or massage as a curative process; a masseur or masseuse; spec. one who massages sportsmen or athletes (chiefly N. Amer.).

1610 Beaum. & Fl. Scornf. Lady i. i, Yonder's Mistres Younglove, Brother, the grave rubber of your Mistresses toes. 1680–4 Dingley Hist. from Marble xliii, A masculine sort of Bona roba Women which attend you at your lodgings and are called Rubbers. 1822–34 Good's Study Med. III. 336 Long continued and daily friction by a skilful rubber. 1857 Mrs. Carlyle New Lett. & Mem. (1903) II. 139 Mr. Erskine wrote me strong regrets about your going so far away from his rubber, who he thinks was certainly doing George good. 1887 C. Bennett Massage Case II. 8 Many cases‥had a nurse to wait on them, and a rubber and electrician besides. 1895 J. L. Williams Princeton Stories 185 Another sub and William, the negro rubber, picked Wormsey up. 1911 Daily Colonist (Victoria, B.C.) 6 Apr. 9/5 A ‘rubber’ has been engaged by Manager Wattalet. Perhaps the use of such a term would shock the sensibilities of our ball players. The correction, therefore, is made with all haste. It is a ‘masseur’, who has become attached to the Victoria baseball club. 1949 Sun (Baltimore) 14 Oct. 27/6 The schools have hired some of the best men in the training profession. Today, they are not just rubbers; they know anatomy, physiology and chemistry. 1950 J. Dempsey Championship Fighting xxiv. 192 The ‘rubber’ (rub-down man) applies soothing lotions to the muscles as he kneads them with his fingers.


b. An attendant who rubs the bathers at a Turkish bath.

1680 Lond. Gaz. No. 1556/4 Whereas the Proprietors of the Royal Bagno, are sensible that their Servants who attend Gentlemen, both Rubbers and Barbers, have been very troublesome. 1712 Steele Spect. No. 332 ⁋3 Some of those Fellows, who are employ'd as Rubbers to this new-fashioned Bagnio. 1881 Daily News 13 April 2/2 When he married the prisoner she was a rubber at some Turkish baths.


9. a. One who rubs in any way; a workman specially engaged in rubbing in order to smooth or polish something. Also rubber-off.

1611 Cotgr., Frotte-botte,‥boot-rubber, maker of boots cleane. 1654 Whitlock Zootomia 144 Some rubber of Horses heels. 1709 Addison Tatler No. 121 ⁋4 Grooms, Farriers, Rubbers, &c. 1775 J. Adams Diary 25 Oct. in Wks. 1850 II. 430 Duane says, that Jefferson is the greatest rubber off of dust that he has met with. 1820 J. H. Reynolds Fancy (1906) 74 He'll be no more a rubber Of wet sockets. 1839 Ure Dict. Arts 1261 The types are taken to the rubber, a man who sits in the centre of the workshop with a grit~stone slab on a table before him. 1860 Tomlinson Arts & Manuf. II. 55 The welder and rubber; the rib forger. 1893 Times 14 Dec. 8/2 The adoption of the respirators‥for mixers; the provision of gloves and aprons for rubbers.


b. One who takes rubbings of brasses, etc.

1861 Sat. Rev. 22 July 647 A zealous ‘rubber’‥asking whether there were any ‘brasses’ in a church. 1897 Watts-Dunton Aylwin ii. ii, My sudden enthusiasm for the rubber's art astonished even my father.


10. fig. A rebuke or irritating remark; a source of annoyance.

1706 E. Ward Wooden World Diss. (1708) 90 One or two Rubbers for such a horrid Negligence, makes him ever after look‥sharp out to all Boats. 1786 Wolcot (P. Pindar) Bozzy & Piozzi Wks. 1812 I. 348 This for the Rambler's temper was a rubber. 1884 in Eng. Dial. Dict.


III. Ellipt. for india-rubber.


11. a. Caoutchouc. Now also applied to any of a large range of synthetic organic polymers having properties of elasticity, etc., resembling those of natural rubber.
Rubber is the base of various recent trade-names denoting preparations of caoutchouc, or substitutes for it, as rubberide, rubberine, rubberite, rubberoid.

1855 J. Scoffern in Orr's Circ. Sci., Chem. 356 The mouth-pieces‥are elongated tubes of vulcanized rubber. 1879 G. B. Prescott Sp. Telephone 22 The diaphragms are placed on opposite sides of a short cylindrical piece of hard rubber. 1897 M. Kingsley W. Africa 295 The pure rubber, when it is made, looks like putty. 1912 Jrnl. Soc. Chem. Industry 15 July 617/1 There can now be no doubt that rubber may actually be obtained synthetically by the polymerisation of isoprene and its homologues and that the synthetic product is really rubber and strictly comparable with natural rubbers. 1941 Jrnl. R. Aeronaut. Soc. XLV. 145 Mechanically, natural rubber is not surpassed by any synthetic rubber. However, in resistance to swelling by organic liquids‥and deterioration by sunlight or oxidising agents, synthetic rubbers have been found superior. 1961 L. Mumford City in Hist. (1966) xv. 545 The new régime was based on‥new synthetic materials, like rubber, bakelite, and the plastics. 1973 Nature 6 Apr. 420/1 Natural rubber is still the preferred polymer for many high performance applications.


b. pl. (a) Overshoes or galoshes made of indiarubber (orig. U.S.); (b) plimsolls, esp. plimsolls worn for climbing.

(a) 1842 Southern Lit. Messenger VIII. 516/2 The younkers who would go ‘a Maying’, very prudently provided themselves with rubbers and tippets before encountering the rough southeaster. 1856 S. Robinson Kansas xii. 160 The snows‥are fast melting, and mingling with the clayey soil. So, besides the burden of rubbers, one has to carry no little portion of the native earth. 1859 Bartlett Dict. Amer. (ed. 2) 373. 1872 Schele de Vere Americanisms 536. 1901 Daily Colonist (Victoria, B.C.) 22 Oct. 4/6 (Advt.), Special sale of rubbers today at 2.30 p.m. 1904 Daily Chron. 4 Jan. 5/2 In America ‘rubbers’ are worn almost universally in wet‥weather. c1921 D. H. Lawrence Mr Noon iv, in Mod. Lover (1934) 221 He went out to his motor-cycle and got it ready. He went indoors and put on his rubbers. 1951 E. Paul Springtime in Paris iii. 53 An umbrella rack with a porcelain tray for rubbers. 1972 J. Minifie Homesteader xvii. 145 It [sc. gumbo] was notorious for its adhesive quality; it stuck to everything, pulled off rubbers—galoshes as people were beginning to call them [in 1914]. 1974 M. Z. Lewin Enemies Within iv. 17 Snow made it look beautiful. I put on my rubbers and walked around.
(b) 1925 Jrnl. Fell & Rock Climbing Club VII. 12 Arrowhead Ridge‥Leader needs about 60 feet of rope. Rubbers. 1933 G. D. Abraham Mod. Mountaineering v. 107 Rubbers are usually used, but I have also made the ascent in nailed boots, and in either footgear dry rocks are advisable. 1941 C. Kirkus Let's go Climbing vi. 95 A climb of such difficulty is not done in boots, but in rubbers. These are ordinary plimsolls or gym shoes. 1950 T. Longstaff This my Voyage xiv. 282 To the right of Kern Knotts Crack is a narrow vertical cracklet.‥ It‥is now a recognised climb. It is led, generally in rubbers, without any moral support of a rope from above. 1957 Clark & Pyatt Mountaineering in Brit. vii. 134 For the climb,‥for which rubbers are recommended, all the party wore boots. 1968 P. Crew Encycl. Dict. Mountaineering 103/2 With the advent of P.A.'s and similar footwear, and their widespread use in Britain, the use of rubbers has diminished considerably.


c. A rubber tyre for a wheel. Also collect., the tyres of a vehicle; occas. used in colloq. phrases expressing speed or acceleration. Chiefly U.S.

1882 Bazaar, Exch. & M. 15 Feb. 174 The wheels are of ordinary construction, red rubbers, crescent rims,‥&c. a1961 G. Felsen in Webster s.v., I'll road test her for you after we get new rubber on. 1976 N. Thornburg Cutter & Bone iv. 91 The huddled figure‥going round the car and out of sight for a few moments and then back into it almost immediately and laying down rubber again. 1977 Hot Car Oct. 61/1 There really is an incredibly large number of cars and vans cruisin' round on completely the wrong sort of rubber for the type of vehicle. 1980 J. Ball Then came Violence (1981) i. 7 Every patrol and supervisory car‥would be burning rubber within seconds.


d. A piece of rubber for erasing pencil or ink marks. Also used of erasers made of other substances

1788–9 Howard New Royal Encycl., s.v. Caoutchouc, Very useful for erasing the strokes of black lead pencils, and is popularly called rubber, and lead-eater. 1891 Catal. & Price List (Waterlow & Sons Ltd.) 169 (caption) Artists' Rubber. Stationer's Rubber.‥ Grey Vulcanised Rubber. 1907 A. E. Zapf Cycl. Drawing I. 14 In making drawings, but little erasing should be necessary. However, in case this is necessary, a soft rubber should be used. 1928 [see bungie, bungy]. 1952 Price & Bishop Art School Self-Taught ii. iii. 275 For erasing errors, a harder rubber is needed. 1968 F. G. Holliday Man. Stationery v. 113 Erasers are often called ‘rubbers’, but today a surprisingly small proportion of them actually consists of rubber. 1973 M. Amis Rachel Papers 139 Between my finger and thumb I take a rubber and bounce it up and down on the desk.


e. U.S. Baseball. (a) The home plate; (b) the pitcher's plate (now the usual sense).

1891 Chicago Herald 5 May 6/1 Those same errors‥hustled two runs over the rubber. 1895 Evening Star (Washington, D.C.) 2 Oct. 9/3 Twirler Magee once more tried to ‘make good’, in a pitching sense, but‥he was put out of the running, and Billy Dineen sent to the rubber. 1910 O. Johnson Humming Bird v. 54 In the breakaway Tyrell, the first to dust the rubber for the Chaperons, selected a hole in the circumambient and poked a buzzer over short. 1919 Chicago Daily Tribune 12 Apr. 19/2 An unfairly delivered ball is a ball delivered by the pitcher to the batsman with the bases unoccupied, while no foot is in contact with the rubber. 1950 A. Daley Times at Bat 106 He hit the first pitch a mile.‥ Still seething inwardly he crossed the rubber and returned to the dugout. 1975 New Yorker 14 Apr. 92/2 Seaver, too, restored memory—the cold, intelligent gaze; the unwasteful windup; the sudden forward, down-dropping stride off the rubber.


f. slang. A contraceptive sheath made of rubber; a condom. Cf. rubber goods, shop below.

1947 C. Willingham End as Man xiv. 173 Maybe next time you'll use a rubber. 1955 W. Gaddis Recognitions i. v. 184 What are you reading?‥ Malthus, for Christ sake.‥ The next thing, you'll be peddling rubbers in the street. 1968 B. Turner Sex Trap viii. 53, I need more rubbers. There's only enough for about a couple of good days left. 1978 J. Irving World According to Garp iv. 71 ‘Oh, Garp,’ Cushie said. ‘Don't you have any rubbers?’


12. attrib. a. In sense ‘made of rubber’, whether natural or synthetic, as rubber apron, rubber bag, rubber band (hence as v. trans.), rubber bed, rubber boat, rubber bone, rubber boot, rubber bullet, rubber clothing, rubber coat, rubber dinghy, rubber garment, rubber glove, rubber hose, rubber nozzle, rubber pants, rubber ring, rubber sheet, rubber sheeting, rubber shoddy, rubber shoe, rubber sole, rubber suit, rubber tyre, rubber truncheon, etc.
In very common use from about 1875.

1926 Daily Colonist (Victoria, B.C.) 10 Jan. 7/1 (Advt.), Women's *rubber aprons. Save your frocks and save your laundry bills, too. 1977 ‘M. Underwood’ Fatal Trip xviii. 102 ‘Caught me just in time,’ the pathologist said, peeling off his rubber apron. 1866 Robert Ware (Harvard Mem. Biogr.) I. 240 With me and the horse came a *rubber bag containing much Sanitary knowledge. 1895 Montgomery Ward Catal. Spring & Summer 117/1 Cabinet of assorted pure *rubber bands for home and office use. Assortment of sizes up to one-half inch wide and 212 inches in length. 1919 F. Hurst Humoresque 128 ‘I asked you why you was like a rubber band.’ ‘Aw, I give up, Miss Sadie.’ ‘'Cause you're so stretchy, see?’ 1947 J. C. Rich Materials & Methods Sculpture v. 121 Tape or rubber bands can be used to hold sections of a mold together for casting positives. 1962 D. Lessing Golden Notebk. iv. 488, I found a stack of letters rubber-banded together in one corner. 1973 ‘E. McBain’ Let's hear It xv. 216 He removed the rubber band from the roll, and spread the plans on the floor. 1849 N. Kingsley Diary 26 Oct. (1914) 78 Some of the fellows went in swimming this afternoon by takeing rubber beds. 1943 J. B. Priestley Daylight on Saturday xxix. 219 Sometimes they got into little *rubber boats and so weren't found for a day or two. 1976 J. Lee Ninth Man 5 The billowy outlines of the rubber boat, rapidly filling with air. 1949 N. Streatfeild Painted Garden v. 48 His spare collar and lead, his water bowl, his *rubber bone. 1973 E. Lemarchand Let or Hindrance viii. 91 A dog basket with a rubber bone in it. 1852 S. C. Davis Jrnl. 16 Dec. in B. A. Richards Calif. Gold Rush Merchant (1956) 85 Arrived at San Francisco and purchased 200 books, pamphlets, magazines, &c., also some *Rubber Boots, &c. 1975 Ecology LVI. 538/1 In very dry years the whole bog surface‥may be dry enough to walk on without rubber boots. 1971 Guardian 14 June 1/8 The soldiers, wearing gas masks and riot helmets, fired nine rounds of *rubber bullets. 1976 P. Ferris Detective viii. 150 You're half hoping I've got‥a patrol group coming in with gas and rubber bullets. 1980 Jrnl. R. Soc. Arts July 486/1 Fire hoses as favoured on the Continent or rubber bullets favoured by the Army in Ireland. 1895 Montgomery Ward Catal. Spring & Summer 296/3 Medium and heavy weight *rubber clothing. 1967 G. Freeman Undergrowth of Lit. x. 151 Talcum powder is also useful to apply to the body before squeezing into rubber clothing. 1850 N. Kingsley Diary 21 Nov. (1914) 157, I put on my *Rubber Coat and built a chimney outside the tent. a1918 G. Stuart 40 Yrs. on Frontier (1925) I. 69 Rubber coats and shoes were unknown at that time. 1939 *Rubber dinghy [see dinghy 2c]. 1953 News Chron. 2 June 2/6 Nothing had been forgotten by the crowds.‥ Even rubber dinghies had been brought to keep off the rain. 1973 E. Lemarchand Let or Hindrance v. 54 Can't we get hold of an RAF rubber dinghy, or inflatable raft? 1921 Dict. Occup. Terms (1927) §608 Garment maker, rubber. 1967 G. Freeman Undergrowth of Lit. x. 152 There is a wide belief among women that sweating in *rubber garments makes them slim. 1895 Montgomery Ward Catal. Spring & Summer 297/1 Ladies' *Rubber Gloves.‥ Men's Rubber Gloves. 1914 ‘E. Bramah’ Max Carrados 96 Here is a rubber glove. I have cut the wire but you had better put it on. 1932 E. Hemingway Death in Afternoon xii. 138 The doctor‥picked up the pistol in his rubber gloves. 1975 Listener 24 July 125/3, I have peeled off my rubber gloves and put the Fairy Liquid back on the shelf. 1892 Photogr. Ann. II. 48 A length of *rubber hose, about twelve inches, is a capital substitute. 1939 N.Y. Sunday News 4 June 68/3 What do you think, they're using a rubber hose on her? Piffle! 1976 H. Tracy Death in Reserve xii. 100 Why don't you get your bloody rubber hoses out and your hallucinogens‥and your flashing lights. 1898 Allbutt's Syst. Med. V. 433 The mixing pipette is provided with a *rubber nozzle. 1897 Sears, Roebuck Catal. 783/3 *Rubber pants. 1936 F. M. Ford Let. 6 Sept. (1965) 261 She [sc. Pennsylvania] led the Universe in the production of rubber pants. 1872 L. P. Meredith Teeth (1878) 63 *Rubber rings are much used around the teeth. 1895 Montgomery Ward Catal. Spring & Summer 537/3 Rubber rings, for Mason fruit jars. 1970 W. H. Parker Health & Dis. in Farm Animals v. 50 A more recent method of ‘bloodless castration’ is the use of the rubber ring. 1976 H. Tracy Death in Reserve xix. 146 Free bucket-and-spade, beachballs, rubber rings. 1922 Encycl. Brit. XXXII. 300/1 In very exacting work, such as the vulcanizing of *hard-rubber sheets, curing is effected by immersion of the material in hot water. 1957 Ibid. XIX. 610/1 The rubber sheet is firmly pressed against the prepared fabric. 1966 May & Moss New Math for Adults Only xii. 71/2 Such geometry‥is known as topology. Youngsters call it rubber-sheet geometry because the figures can be twisted and stretched and still remain the same. 1975 I. Stewart Concepts Mod. Math. x. 144 Topology is sometimes described as ‘rubber-sheet geometry’, a whimsical and somewhat misleading description. 1976 M. Millar Ask for me Tomorrow (1977) xiii. 107 She gave him a sponge bath‥on a rubber sheet on the bed. 1895 Montgomery Ward Catal. Spring & Summer 108/2 Nursery *rubber sheeting. 1965 M. Thomas Grannies' Remedies 16 Another‥poultice is a piece of soft thick sheet-lint‥squeezed out in hot water, and laid over the part, covered with a larger piece of thin rubber-sheeting. 1907 Sci. Amer. 5 Oct. 240/2 Scrap rubber, or *rubber ‘shoddy’ as it is called, is made up principally of worn-out boots and shoes. 1844 Knickerbocker XXIV. 287 Old *rubber-shoes! old rubber-shoes! Humble theme for heavenly muse! 1931 M. Allingham Look to Lady xvii. 178 They heard the soft scrape of his rubber shoes on the bole of the tree. 1897 Sears, Roebuck Catal. 208/1 Royal *rubber soles. 1901 E. W. Hornung Black Mask vi. 112 There had been no warning step‥and my suspicious eye had searched his feet for rubber soles. 1975 G. Seymour Harry's Game iv. 66 A night patrol, their faces blackened, rubber soles on their shoes. 1948 H. Innes Blue Ice viii. 205 Sweating underwater in a *rubber suit. 1872 Carriage Builder's Gaz. 1 Mar. 40/1 A wheel with a *rubber tire upon it. 1931 M. Allingham Look to Lady v. 66 A small but wicked looking *rubber truncheon and‥[a] Colt revolver. 1959 J. Braine Vodi iv. 69 They beat him up with rubber truncheons. The marks don't show. 1973 W. Fairchild Swiss Arrangement viii. 94 Give this one a pair of jackboots‥and he'd be just like the rest.‥ Drench you with charm first and, if that failed, slug you with a rubber truncheon. 1883 Cent. Mag. Sept. 733/1 The *rubber tubing‥is a great convenience.


b. In sense ‘producing rubber’, as rubber plant, rubber tree, rubber vine.

1872 Schele de Vere Americanisms 420 Gum-trees are not unfrequently called Rubber-trees. 1880 C. R. Markham Peruv. Bark 461 The Ceará rubber-tree would thrive perfectly over a very wide area of the drier regions of British India. 1884 Knight Dict. Mech. Suppl. 771/1 Unlike the juice of the American rubber tree this milky sap will not run into a vessel placed to receive it. 1887 C. A. Moloney Forestry W. Afr. 233, I may single out as an example the rubber vine. 1888 H. Drummond Trop. Africa iii. (1889) 62 The well-known rubber plant abounds on Lake Nyassa.


c. In miscellaneous uses.

1875 Knight Dict. Mech. 1998/1 Rubber gage, knife, mould, saw. 1887 C. A. Moloney Forestry W. Afr. 78, I‥furnish separately the Gambia rubber export. Ibid. 92 The rubber industry is in its infancy as regards Her Majesty's Possessions on the Gambia. 1891 Pall Mall G. 21 Jan. 7/1 An American syndicate has been formed to control the rubber trade. 1907 Chem. Abstr. I. 1326 (heading) On the action of iodine and bromine on the resins in rubber latex. 1911 Encycl. Brit. XXIII. 798/2 The experience of planters in general is in favour of the complete removal of weeds from a rubber plantation. 1911 Rubber substitute [see artificial rubber s.v. artificial a. 5]. 1923 in M. Box Trial of Marie Stopes (1967) 166 A. As a matter of fact‥these things have been used by the hundreds.‥ Q. Bought at rubber shops, rubber goods' shops? Ibid. 254 Contraceptives are for sale at what have been called, I think, rubber shops? 1935 Chambers's Encycl. VI. 123/2 Paints, varnishes, rubber-substitutes, oil-cloth, soft soap, &c. 1936 ‘G. Orwell’ Keep Aspidistra Flying i. 13 He'd slink into one of the rubber-shops and buy High Jinks in a Parisian Convent. 1940 Graves & Hodge Long Week-End vii. 105 Contraception['s]‥association with the pornographic literature of rubber-shops. 1948 M. Laski Tory Heaven i. 6 James had‥been sent to try his luck on an uncle's rubber-plantation in Malaya. 1967 G. Freeman Undergrowth of Lit. x. 152 To the rubber addict ‘slimwear’ is a key word. 1972 Materials & Technol. V. iv. 80 Rubber latex is not naturally very stable: the rubber particles coagulate spontaneously in course of time.


13. Comb. a. Objective, with agent-nouns, as rubber-collector, rubber-gatherer, rubber-hunter, rubber-planter.

1880 C. R. Markham Peruv. Bark 459 The tracks of the rubber collectors through the dense forests. 1882 C. A. Moloney Forestry W. Afr. (1887) 86 The wasteful custom‥rubber-hunters have of cutting down‥every tree from which they extract the rubber. 1894 Outing XXIII. 356/1, I proposed to accompany the rubber-gatherer on his rounds. 1937 Discovery May 143/2 The rubber planter uses coconut shells for collecting the raw latex from his trees.


b. Objective, with ppl. adjs., as rubber-cutting, rubber-growing, rubber-producing, rubber-yielding; also with vbl. ns., as rubber-collecting.

1875 Knight Dict. Mech., Rubber-cutting Machine, a machine for making threads of caoutchouc for shirrs. 1884 Harper's Mag. Nov. 836 The rubber-yielding plants of South America. 1887 C. A. Moloney Forestry W. Afr. 89 The juice of rubber-producing trees. 1897 Westm. Gaz. 25 May 8/1 The rubber-growing territory of Appaboomah. 1910 Blackw. Mag. May 729/1 Rubber-collecting is less laborious, but takes you into dangerous parts.


c. Instrumental, as rubber-boned, rubber-booted, rubber-caped, rubber-coated, rubber-cored, rubber-covered, rubber-cushioned, rubber-faced, rubber-gloved, rubber-insulated, rubber-jointed, rubber-legged, rubber-lipped, rubber-mounted, rubber-mouthed, rubber-necked, rubber-soled, rubber-stoppered, rubber-tipped, rubber-tyred (also fig.), rubber-treaded.

1958 New Statesman 22 Feb. 227/2 Especially fantastic is the dance of a *rubber-boned neighbour (Stephen Preston). 1943 J. W. Day Farming Adventure xx. 228, I dined and went down to the quay, oil-skinned and *rubber-booted. 1935 W. Cather Lucy Gayheart i. ix. 75 When the *rubber-caped boy was gone, Lucy stood looking at the yellow envelope. 1934 Webster, *Rubber-coated. 1959 Chambers's Encycl. XII. 30/2 Some of the earliest known products of rubber, observed in Brazil, shoes and rubber-coated garments for example, possessed these faults. 1972 Classification of Occupations (Dept. Employment) III. 244/1 Operates machine to wind‥rubber coated wire round core. 1902 Amer. Golfer Apr. 102/1 The advent of the *rubber-cored ball has made this [sc. an official golf ball] a question of practical interest to all golfers. 1929 W. Deeping Roper's Row xxxv. 398 Sillocks was a golf maniac, and went from Rye to Hoylake‥smiting a rubber-cored ball. 1935 Chambers's Encycl. VI. 122/1 Innumerable other new applications, as in rubber-cored golf-balls and vulcanite fountain-pens, have caused an enormous increase in the importation of rubber. 1897 Outing XXX. 370/1 Strapping my *rubber-covered roll on the handle-bars, I was ready to start. 1971 Flying Apr. 40/1 The free-floating *rubber-cushioned engine cowling. 1911 Encycl. Brit. XXIII. 803/2 The required thickness of the spread sheet is very often secured by the *rubber-faced surfaces of two cloths being united before curing. 1965 F. Sargeson Mem. Peon vii. 241 It was more as though he aimed at captivating me with his abilities as a rubber-faced comedian. 1970 Motoring Which? July 107/4 Bumpers lightly mounted; rubberfaced overriders front and back. 1956 P. Scott Male Child ii. vii. 174 Handled by sterilized, *rubber-gloved hands. 1977 B. Pym Quartet in Autumn x. 91 Her pink rubber-gloved hands plunged in the washing-up water. 1965 Motor 17 July 6/1 The wiring was *rubber insulated and in poor condition. 1934 J. A. Lee Children of Poor (1949) 200 People go to the circus to see the *rubber-jointed wonder. 1942 Berry & Van den Bark Amer. Thes. Slang §702/32 ‘Punch-drunk’; dazed,‥*rubber-legged. 1950 J. Dempsey Championship Fighting xxv. 200 He becomes ‘*rubber-legged’ as he lurches about the ring. 1960 Times 24 Feb. 16/5 A right to the head had Luukkonen rubber legged as he stood against the ropes. 1898 Cycling 71 The flap and the *rubber-lined inside of the jacket‥are anointed with soft soap. 1973 M. Amis Rachel Papers 180 Once, I affectionately imitated her pout; she veered away in pained bewilderment, so I changed it to an imitation of *rubber-lipped Norman, claiming I had heard him on the stairs. 1947 Crowther & Whiddington Science at War iv. 166 A *rubber-mounted dome was found. 1969 Jane's Freight Containers 1968–69 245/1 Two rubber-mounted gantry cranes are used to transfer containers. 1968 Times 15 Nov. 16/1 The American designers swing-a-ding-ding with such vivacity and with such *rubber-mouthed, beady-eyed professionalism as to render our homemade brand soft-in-the-head amateurs by comparison. 1928 D. H. Lawrence Lady Chatterley x. 168 There was a toughness, a curious *rubber-necked toughness and unlivingness about the middle and upper classes. 1932 Blunden Face of England 114, I came to an old tree over the stream, and crossing with some disadvantage to its rubber-necked lichens, I was in an open meadow. 1957 R. Campbell Coll. Poems II. 126 The rubbernecked, Hell-touring Thracian. 1884 Harper's Mag. Jan. 304/2 A pair of *rubber-soled shoes. 1913 E. C. Bentley Trent's Last Case v. 123 He wore rubber-soled tennis shoes. 1973 J. Leasor Host of Extras iii. 49, I had not heard his rubber-soled shoes. 1927 C. B. Neblette Photography xx. 465 The potassium pentasulphide solution thus formed is then allowed to cool, filtered and kept in a *rubber-stoppered bottle tightly closed. 1913 T. Eaton & Co. Semi-Ann. Sale Catal. No. 36. 17/2 *Rubber tipped pencils. 1926 ‘C. Barry’ Detective's Holiday xi. 97 A sallow, unhealthy-looking man of about thirty years, who walked with the help of a stout stick and a rubber-tipped wooden stump. 1976 M. Gilbert Night of Twelfth i. 8 He‥walked‥with the aid of a rubber-tipped stick. 1886 Bicycling News 17 Sept. 748/2 The popularity of our *rubber-tyred steel wheels. 1901 Kipling Let. May in Ld. Birkenhead R. Kipling (1978) xiv. 235 We were bung full of beastly spiritual pride.‥ We went about despising things and people, unconsciously turning our ideals to mean an easy life…soft rubber-tyred. 1980 A. Cromie Lucky to be Alive i. 9, I would be leaving the rubber-tired life behind. 1936 J. Steinbeck In Dubious Battle i. 11 He went in a dark entrance and climbed the narrow stairs *rubber-treaded, the edges guarded with strips of brass.


14. Special Combs.: rubber boa, a short, stout, brown snake, Charina bottæ, belonging to the family Boidæ and found in western North America; rubber cement, a cement or adhesive containing rubber in a solvent; hence rubber-cemented a. (also fig.); rubber cheque slang (orig. U.S.), a cheque that ‘bounces’; rubber-chicken circuit N. Amer. slang, an after-dinner-speaking circuit; rubber dam, rubberdam: see dam n.1 4e; rubber fetishism, sexual fetishism which is centred on objects made of rubber; hence rubber fetish; rubber goods pl., articles made of rubber; freq. spec. contraceptive devices; also attrib. and fig.; rubber gum, the sap or latex of rubber trees; rubber ice N. Amer., thin, flexible ice; rubber johnny slang, a condom (cf. sense 11f above); rubber kite slang = rubber cheque; rubber-leather a., consisting of rubber and leather; rubber-like a., resembling or suggestive of rubber; rubber plant, a tree, Ficus elastica, belonging to the family Moraceæ, and native to south-east Asia, the juvenile form of which is widely cultivated as a house plant for the sake of its large leathery leaves which are dark green above and pale yellowish-green beneath; rubber-proofed a., coated or treated with rubber for water-proofing; rubber snake = rubber boa; rubber solution, a solution of rubber, spec. one used as an adhesive in the repair of tyres; rubberware, rubber goods; rubberwear, rubber clothing.

1907 R. L. Ditmars Reptile Bk. xxv. 211 The *Rubber Boa.‥ Size moderate. Form very stout. 1977 Westworld (Vancouver, B.C.) May–June 46/2 Another snake common around the lake is the rubber boa. 1895 Montgomery Ward Catal. Spring & Summer 525/2, 1 can *rubber cement. 1939 R. Stout Some Buried Caesar xii. 175 I'll close it forever and seal the crack with rubber cement. 1965 Zigrosser & Gaehde Guide Coll. Orig. Prints vii. 107 Synthetic adhesives, such as rubber cement. 1961 W. Sansom Last Hours S. Lee 246 Bossom was already home, *rubber-cemented to his favourite comedian on the telly. 1962 ‘E. McBain’ Like Love (1964) vi. 82 Grossman turned over the lucite-encased sketch and studied the typewritten key rubber-cemented to its back. 1927 *Rubber cheque [see bounce v. 6c]. 1936 Wallace & Curtis Mouthpiece i. 9 By now the woman has exhausted her credit in Vienna, issued a few rubber checks and passed on to Budapest or somewhere. 1955 J. Potts Death of Stray Cat xv. 157 Jimmy was going to have a lot more to explain than just a handful of rubber cheques. 1973 R. Busby Pattern of Violence vi. 94 Have you got that blighter who's been trying to put me out of business with rubber cheques? 1959 Maclean's Mag. 23 May 1/1 Next year's *rubber-chicken circuit is being sewed up by three Toronto women with a public-speaking agency called Canadian Celebrity Bureau. 1977 Rolling Stone 5 May 47/3 He spent the winter making speeches on the rubber-chicken circuit. 1954 B. Karpman Sexual Offender xix. 352 Another *rubber fetish in a case reported by Payne was a mackintosh, and in this case also the patient preferred one that had been stolen. 1930 S. Parker tr. Stekel's Sexual Aberrations I. v. 105 During the two years that he was engaged, he continued his *rubber and glove fetishism unabated. 1951 Hartwich & Burbury tr. Krafft-Ebing's Aberrations of Sexual Life x. 173 Despite this strong rubber-fetishism he had a normal sexual relationship. 1971 E. Chesser Human Aspects Sexual Deviation iii. 51 Although rubber fetishism features largely in pornographic literature, if it makes for married happiness it is impossible to see how any moral issue can arise. 1853 Pathfinder Railway Guide Sept. (Advt.), Goodyear's patent vulcanized *rubber goods. 1897 National Police Gaz. (U.S.) 26 May 15/4 (Advt.), T. W. Harrison's rubber, cigar, and book stores. List of all kinds of rubber goods, French & American specialities, pessaries of every description. 1922 Joyce Ulysses 533 Rubber goods. Neverrip. 1928 D. H. Lawrence Lady Chatterley x. 141 She wasn't all tough rubber-goods and platinum, like the modern girl. 1951 G. Greene End of Affair iii. vii. 143 They ought to have opaque glass in their doors like rubber-goods shops. 1973 A. Broinowski Take one Ambassador xii. 187 The rubber goods factory next door. 1910 Chambers's Jrnl. Mar. 153/2 In these forests grow the trees which yield the finest quality of *rubber-gum. 1896 Dialect Notes I. 423 *Rubber ice, thin ice that bends when skated upon. 1916 Ladies' Home Jrnl. Apr. 101/2 ‘Soft as Cheese!’ Doctor Rolfe concluded. ‘Rubber ice and air holes.’ 1962 W. O. Mitchell Kite xiv. 171 Jimmy Sangster had gone through rubber ice, to be found far downstream in a back-water. 1980 Private Eye 29 Feb. 13/1 Even the *rubber johnny merchants gave him the thumbs down. 1961 John o' London's 30 Nov. 610/3 A worthless cheque is a *rubber kite. 1923 Daily Mail 28 May 3 A new process for the manufacture of *rubber-leather compounds. 1922 Encycl. Brit. XXXII. 299/1 Isoprene undergoes polymerization on exposure to light with the production of a *rubber-like mass. a1930 D. H. Lawrence Last Poems (1932) 156 The vibration of the motor-car has bruised their insensitive bottoms Into rubber-like deadness. 1959 Times 27 Apr. (Rubber Industry Suppl.) p. ii/4 Some of the earliest research work on a synthetic product with rubberlike properties was carried out in this country. 1888 *Rubber plant [see rubber n.1 12b]. 1908 ‘O. Henry’ Gentle Grafter 138 The little wine-stained table‥between the rakish rubber plant and the framed palazzio della something. 1959 C. MacInnes Absolute Beginners 81 The rubber-plants in the espressos had been dusted. 1971 New Scientist 9 Sept. 554/1 The prime atmospheric essential that they should be places fit for rubber plants to live in. 1934 J. A. Sinclair Airships iii. 65 The envelopes were composed of *rubber-proofed fabric, two fabrics being used with rubber interposed between them, and also on the inner or gas surface. 1960 Textile Terms & Definitions (Textile Inst.) (ed. 4) 123 Rubber-proofed sheeting. 1897 J. van Denburgh Reptiles Pacific Coast & Gt. Basin 156 The *Rubber Snake‥is not rare in the moister portions of California. 1954 R. C. Stebbins Amphibians & Reptiles Western N. Amer. 352/2 Rubber Snake.‥ Usually found in moist locations, often near, or within, coniferous woods. 1894 Albermarle & Hillier Cycling (rev. ed.) 471 The hole [is] discovered‥and a small patch of rubber stuck over it with *rubber solution. 1911 Encycl. Brit. XXIII. 802/1 The best solvents for rubber are carbon bisulphide, benzol and mineral naphtha, carbon tetrachloride and chloroform. These liquids, either alone or mixed, are employed in making the rubber solutions used for technical purposes. 1967 E. Short Embroidery & Fabric Collage ii. 45 It is also a useful precaution to put a spot of rubber solution onto the endings of threads on the back of the work. 1972 Materials & Technol. V. xiv. 516 Sometimes rubber cements are made for impregnating or proofing of fabrics, or rubber solutions are prepared for dipping or adhesive purposes. 1950 N.Z. Jrnl. Agric. Oct. 300/1 During the war‥*rubberware of any kind was very scarce. 1977 Hot Car Oct. 71/2 A full range of butch and beefy rubberware is also stocked both State~side and UK. 1967 G. Freeman Undergrowth of Lit. x. 150 There is also a comprehensive catalogue of the latest range of *rubberwear called ‘Black Panther’. 1972 Guardian 2 Dec. 10/1 Allen Jones's search for potent imagery has led him into a vicarious world‥[of] rubber-wear and lingerie catalogues.