To rub is to push firmly and repeatedly, like when you rub your sore foot. When Hamlet says, "aye, there's the rub," he's not talking about getting a massage. Rub, as a noun, is an obstacle or something in your way.

You can rub someone's aching back or rub sunblock on your arms and legs. You can also watch chunks of melting ice on a lake's surface rub against each other or complain that your new shoes rub your heels and give you blisters. Colloquially, you might rub off on your friends, or begin to influence them by your mere presence. If, however, you rub them the wrong way, you irritate or annoy them. The noun rub is not used nearly as often as the verb, but people do love to allude to Hamlet's "aye, there's the rub" line in the "to be or not to be" soliloquy, referring to the unforeseen dreams of death that haunt mankind.

Definitions of rub
  1. verb
    move over something with pressure
    rub my hands”
    rub oil into her skin”
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    rub with a brush, or as if with a brush
    rub with pumice, in order to clean or to smoothen
    rub to a uniform size
    puree, strain
    rub through a strainer or process in an electric blender
    rub rosin onto
    sponge down, sponge off
    clean with a sponge, by rubbing
    touch or rub constantly
    scour, scrub
    clean with hard rubbing
    abrade, scour
    rub hard or scrub
    blur, smear, smudge, smutch
    make a smudge on; soil by smudging
    grate, scrape
    scratch repeatedly
    pass over, wipe
    rub with a circular motion
    reduce to small shreds or pulverize by rubbing against a rough or sharp perforated surface
    scrape with the paws
    scrub with a holystone
    smudge again
    rub the dust over a surface so as to blur the outlines of a shape
    wipe with a sponge, so as to clean or moisten
    wipe with a squeegee
    broom, sweep
    sweep with a broom or as if with a broom
    wipe with a towel
    whisk, whisk off
    brush or wipe off lightly
    type of:
    draw, guide, pass, run
    pass over, across, or through
  2. verb
    scrape or rub as if to relieve itching
    synonyms: itch, scratch
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    type of:
    excite to an abnormal condition, or chafe or inflame
  3. verb
    cause friction
    synonyms: chafe, fray, fret, scratch
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    type of:
    adjoin, contact, meet, touch
    be in direct physical contact with; make contact
  4. noun
    the act of rubbing or wiping
    “he gave the hood a quick rub
    synonyms: wipe
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    the act of scuffing (scraping or dragging the feet)
    type of:
    contact, physical contact
    the act of touching physically
  5. noun
    an unforeseen obstacle
    synonyms: hang-up, hitch, snag
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    type of:
    obstacle, obstruction
    something immaterial that stands in the way and must be circumvented or surmounted
Word Family

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