In sports, a rubber is a series that consists of one odd number of matches whereby a majority of wins bring away the series. Wiktionary and Merriam-Webster both list the etymology of this definition as "origin unknown." Is over there any much more information accessible than this around the beginning of this word, probably some study or speculation as to the origin?


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

RUBBER, s. rub>

One the rubs.

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The instrument through which one rubs. Swift.

A rough circuit file. Moxon.

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

A whetstone.

Twenty years earlier, man Kersey, A brand-new Dictionary: or, A Compleat arsenal of the most ideal and far-ranging Words, and also Terms of Art commonly used in the Language (1739) offers only two rubber-related definitions:

A Rubber, a Rubbing-Cloth.

To play Rubbers, or a twin Game at any type of Sport.

Earlier version of Kersey native 1706 and also 1720 have actually no entries at every for rubber; and Elisha Coles, An Dictionary, Explaining the daunting Terms the are provided in Divinity, Husbandry, Physick, Philosophy, Law, Navigation, Mathematicks, and other Arts and also Sciences (1717) likewise has no entry because that rubber. At least in their at an early stage editions the pre-Johnson dictionaries focused on daunting words, and it is highly probable that rubber was widely provided in England prior to its appearance in the 1739 Kersey dictionary.

Though both Kersey (1739) and Johnson (1756) offer interpretations for rubber in the context of games, neither has a an interpretation for latex-based rubber nor for anything implying elasticity. This gives circumstantial evidence that rubber as applied to games and also sports is no directly associated to what provided to be called "India rubber." In fact, the earliest thesaurus I have uncovered that mentions "India rubber" is noah Webster, An American dictionary of the Language (1828), whereby this item shows up at the bottom the the entry because that rubber:

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

All that which tends to eliminate the notion of elasticity or bouncing as a feasible element the original sense the rubber as offered in the paper definition of games—but the doesn"t market much extr insight beyond Johnson"s surmise the rubber in games, prefer the various other senses of rubber that he lists, comes from rub.

Two an extremely early circumstances of rubbers in the paper definition of games appears in thomas Dekker, "Sloth or The 4th dayes Triumph" in The seven Deadly Sinnes the London (1606):

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

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

The Dycing ebeator, and also the cozening Card-player, walke in the habites that Gentlemen, and also cary the encounters of ethical men. So similarly doe those that room Students in the Vincente Lawe : whose Inne is a Bowling Alley, who bookes space bowles, and whose law instances are lurches and rubbers. The pastime the bowles is currently growne to usual exercise, or fairly a profession of which some of all carriers are frée ; the sports is no so typical as the cozenage supplied in it, i beg your pardon to have it live v credyt and in a great name is referred to as the Vincents Law.

In this law they which beat booty space the Banckers.

He the Betteth is the Gripe.

He that is cozened is the Vincent.

The Gaines acquired is dubbed the Termage.

The Bankers are frequently men apparelled favor honest and also sub / stanciall Citizens, who come right into the Bowling Allies, for a rubbers or so, as though that were fairly for sport, climate for any kind of gaines, protesting they no whether they win or loose : i m sorry carelessnes of theirs is however a shadowe to their pretended knaveries : whilst they room crying Rub, Rub, Rub, and also a Great one, In come the spectators dropping one by one, and stand leaning over a Rayle to behold castle ; of i m sorry oftentimes some an easy men that never saw usual Bowling Ally before may perhaps be of the number, and also is carried in of function by among their owne Brotherhood to it is in rid that his money : ...

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Though Dekker below is relenten a crooked game of "bowles," it show up that in moral versions the the game, too, spectators would shout "Rub! Rub! Rub!"—either for encouragement, because "rubbing" (perhaps highlight the target pins with the cast bowle) may have actually been the resource of point out in the game, or for functions of calling for wagers. In any event Dekker"s description of bowling offers a feasible explanation for how rubber (or follow to him, "a rubbers") could have emerged in its idiom gaming sense.

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