Definition of grub in English:

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Pronunciation: /ɡrʌb/


1The larva of an insect, especially a beetle: my onions are ruined by small grubs eating the roots
More example sentences
  • Dwarf mongooses mainly feed on insects like termites, locusts, beetles, grubs, larvae and spiders.
  • This year flea beetles, white grubs, seed corn maggots and wireworms generated a lot of discussion.
  • Insect larvae such as leatherjackets and chafer grubs, which feed on grass roots, have now reached a size and state of succulence that tempts birds to dig for them, spoiling lawns in the process.
1.1A maggot or small caterpillar.
2 [mass noun] informal Food: a popular bar serving excellent pub grub
More example sentences
  • Located near to the town centre, the monastically themed bar offers traditional pub grub from 12.30 pm to 2.45 pm.
  • The CDs were handed out with fast food grub as part of a joint initiative between the two companies.
  • This year's event will include delights ranging from a First Class Food Day to an Organic and Vegetarian Day, with world food, British food and wedding grub all on the agenda, too.

verb (grubs, grubbing, grubbed)

[no object, with adverbial]
1Dig or poke about in soil: the damage done to pastures by badgers grubbing for worms
More example sentences
  • It keeps to the bottom, grubbing for insect larvae.
  • We no longer go off into the forest, hunting for our game and grubbing for roots and berries.
  • He was an illiterate village urchin grubbing around with goats and chickens till the age of 12.
dig, excavate, burrow, tunnel;
literary delve
1.1 [with object] (grub something up/out) Remove something from the earth by digging it up: many miles of hedgerows were grubbed up
More example sentences
  • I plant carrots late, just so I have lots of them for winter; if I've protected them with a mulch of hay, I can keep grubbing them out through the season.
  • Wine varieties were grubbed up and table and raisin varieties were planted in their place.
  • If a fence be an old bad one, grub it up and raise a new one.
dig up, unearth, disinter, uproot, root out, root up, pull up, pull out, tear out, take out of the ground
literary deracinate
2Search in a clumsy and unmethodical manner: I began grubbing about in the waste-paper basket to find the envelope
search, hunt, delve, dig, rummage, scrabble, scour, probe, ferret (about/around), root, rifle, fish, poke;
go through, turn upside down, turn inside out
British informal rootle
Australian/New Zealand informal fossick through
rare roust
3Work hard, especially at a dull or demeaning task: she has achieved independence without having to grub for it
More example sentences
  • It is supposed to be strictly a commerce-free zone - not exactly a public service, maybe, but also not a place to grub for the Almighty Dollar.
  • This is a clear attempt to scratch the itch of racism, homophobia and bigotry and pander to the culturally insecure in order to grub for votes.
  • He had to use a pseudonym to continue to write, and continue to write he did, for years, while William Shakespeare, whose name is used, went unwittingly on, grubbing for money in Stratford.
3.1 [with object] Achieve or acquire (something) by doing demeaning work: they were grubbing a living from garbage pails
More example sentences
  • He is a born loner used to corrupting words to grub a living.
  • If the Government is reduced to grubbing the votes of its most backward-looking, antediluvian backbenchers, then what is it in office for?
  • And it never ceases to amaze me when I see a fit woman grubbing French fries and pizza.
informal slog away, plug away, peg away, kill oneself, put one's back into it, sweat blood, knock oneself out
British informal graft, fag
archaic drudge, travail, moil


Middle English: perhaps related to Dutch grobbelen, also to grave1.

  • grunge from [1960s]:

    Before it became associated with rock music, grunge was generally used to mean ‘grime or dirt’. It was formed from grungy, a word that was coined in the 1960s, probably by blending grubby (from the state you get in when you grub (Middle English) or dig) and dingy (a M18th word of unknown origin, but perhaps related to dung). In the 1990s grunge became the term for a style of rock music in which the guitar is played raucously and the lyrics delivered in a lazy vocal style. Among well-known practitioners of grunge were Seattle-based groups such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam.

Words that rhyme with grub

blub, bub, chub, Chubb, club, cub, drub, dub, flub, hub, nub, pub, rub, scrub, shrub, slub, snub, stub, sub, tub

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: grub

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