In sports, a rubber is a collection that is composed of one odd number of matches where a majority of wins bring away the series. Wiktionary and Merriam-Webster both list the etymology that this meaning as "origin unknown." Is over there any much more information available than this around the beginning of this word, possibly some examine or speculation regarding the origin?


Samuel Johnson"s Dictionary of the Language (1756) expresses no doubt the the term comes from the indigenous rub:

RUBBER, s. rub>

One that rubs.

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The instrument through which one rubs. Swift.

A outlet file. Moxon.

A game ; a contest ; two gamings out of three. Collier.

A whetstone.

Twenty years earlier, man Kersey, A brand-new Dictionary: or, A Compleat arsenal of the most proper and far-reaching Words, and Terms of Art commonly used in the Language (1739) gives only 2 rubber-related definitions:

A Rubber, a Rubbing-Cloth.

To play Rubbers, or a double Game at any kind of Sport.

Earlier execution of Kersey from 1706 and also 1720 have actually no entries at all for rubber; and also Elisha Coles, An Dictionary, Explaining the challenging Terms that are supplied in Divinity, Husbandry, Physick, Philosophy, Law, Navigation, Mathematicks, and other Arts and Sciences (1717) an in similar way has no entry because that rubber. At least in their early editions the pre-Johnson dictionaries focused on complicated words, and it is very probable the rubber was widely used in England before its illustration in the 1739 Kersey dictionary.

Though both Kersey (1739) and also Johnson (1756) offer definitions for rubber in the context of games, neither includes a meaning for latex-based rubber nor because that anything implying elasticity. This provides circumstantial evidence that rubber as applied to games and sports is no directly associated to what supplied to be dubbed "India rubber." In fact, the earliest dictionary I have discovered that mentions "India rubber" is noah Webster, An American thesaurus of the Language (1828), where this item appears at the bottom of the entry for rubber:

India rubber, elastic resin, or caoutchouc, a substance produced from the syringe tree of south America; a substance remarkably pliable and elastic.

All the which has tendency to remove the concept of elasticity or bouncing together a possible element the initial sense the rubber as supplied in the paper definition of games—but that doesn"t market much extr insight beyond Johnson"s surmise the rubber in games, prefer the various other senses of rubber the he lists, originates from rub.

Two very early circumstances of rubbers in the context of games shows up in thomas Dekker, "Sloth or The 4th dayes Triumph" in The seven Deadly Sinnes the London (1606):

Hee then gau licenses to all the Vintners, come keep open house, and to emptye your Hogsheades to every commers, who did so, dying your grates into a drunkards blush (to make them knowne indigenous the Grates that a prison) least customers need to reele far from them, and hanging out brand-new bushes, that if guys at your going out, could not view the signe,yet they can not loosened themselues in the bush. He an in similar way gaue order that dicing-houses, and bowling alleyes have to be erected, whereupon a number of poore handy-crafts-men, the beore wrought night and day, made share of themselues of ten groates, and also crowns a peece, and also what by Betting, Lurches, Rubbers and also such tricks, lock neuer tooke treatment for a an excellent daies worke afterwards.

and in cutting board Dekker, "Vincents Law" in The Belman that London (1608):

The Dycing ebeator, and the cozening Card-player, walke in the habites the Gentlemen, and also cary the deals with of moral men. So an in similar way doe those that room Students in the Vincente Lawe : whose Inne is a Bowling Alley, whose bookes space bowles, and whose law cases are lurches and also rubbers. The pastime the bowles is now growne to typical exercise, or quite a trade of which few of all carriers are frée ; the sports is no so usual as the cozenage provided in it, i m sorry to have actually it live through credyt and also in a good name is called the Vincents Law.

In this regulation they which beat booty room the Banckers.

He the Betteth is the Gripe.

He the is cozened is the Vincent.

The Gaines obtained is called the Termage.

The Bankers are frequently men apparelled prefer honest and also sub / stanciall Citizens, who come right into the Bowling Allies, for a rubbers or so, together though that were quite for sport, then for any kind of gaines, protesting they no whether they victory or loosened : which carelessnes of your is yet a shadowe to your pretended knaveries : whilst they space crying Rub, Rub, Rub, and also a Great one, In come the spectators dropping one by one, and also stand leaning end a Rayle come behold castle ; of i m sorry oftentimes some basic men that never saw typical Bowling Ally prior to may probably be of the number, and is carried in of purpose by one of their owne Brotherhood to it is in rid that his money : ...

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Though Dekker right here is describing a crooked game of "bowles," it appear that in moral versions that the game, too, spectators would shout "Rub! Rub! Rub!"—either for encouragement, because "rubbing" (perhaps highlight the target pins through the actors bowle) may have actually been the resource of clues in the game, or for objectives of calling for wagers. In any kind of event Dekker"s description of bowling supplies a feasible explanation for how rubber (or according to him, "a rubbers") could have emerged in its idiom gaming sense.

In explaining exactly how to speak "Rubbers at bowls" in Latin, Christopher Wase, Dictionarium Minus: A Compendious thesaurus (1662) gives some understanding into just how the hatchet was understood in in 1662: