Definition of rob in English:
verb (robs, robbing, robbed)[with object]
- While in Hawaii for a surf contest, Frank and Joe's hotel room is robbed.
- Being robbed of the £1,000 deposit for a new flat is the last thing Paul Hunt needs at the moment.
- When asked why he robbed banks, a noted criminal's famous reply was ‘That's where the money is.’
- This detracts from the impressions of true giants, robbing them of the respect they deserve.
- Overjoyed members of Ward's family said he had been robbed of six years of his life after the short hearing concluded.
- However big the reparation they receive, it will never replace what they have been robbed of.
The words rob and robe come from the same ancient root, a word meaning ‘booty’—clothing would have been the kind of property stolen in a raid. To rob Peter to pay Paul is to take something away from one person to pay another. The expression probably refers to the apostles St Peter and St Paul, who in Christian art are often shown together as equals. Although the earliest examples feature robbery, other versions have cropped up over the centuries, such as unclothe Peter to pay Paul and borrow from Peter to pay Paul. The last example probably helped in the additional meaning ‘to pay off one debt only to incur another’. The Scottish and English reavers or reivers, who plundered each other across the border got their name from ‘to reave’, another form of the original word, and those who are bereaved (Old English) have also been robbed of something precious—bereft is the old form of the word. A rover (Middle English) was originally another form of the word, but to rove (Late Middle English) is a different word: it was originally a term in archery meaning ‘shoot at a casual mark of undetermined range’. This may be from dialect rave ‘to stray’, probably of Scandinavian origin.
rob Peter to pay Paul
- Take something away from one person to pay another, leaving the former at a disadvantage; discharge one debt only to incur another.[probably with reference to the apostles Peter and Paul; the allusion is uncertain, the phrase often showing variations such as 'unclothe Peter and clothe Paul', 'borrow from Peter …', etc.]Example sentences
- It is an example of that adage of politics: ‘Any program that robs Peter to pay Paul will have the enthusiastic support of Paul.’
- He described the move, which involves taking €20m from the third-level capital programme for this year, as robbing Peter to pay Paul.
- "While it has been great for local staff to have the opportunity to move up the ranks, it's been a situation of robbing Peter to pay Paul."
rob someone blind
- see blind.
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