Green’s Dictionary of Slang

rubber n.2

1. (US) a cosh.

[US]‘Goat’ Laven Rough Stuff 16: My partner proceeded to work on him with a rubber (a cosh) which kept bouncing off his head like a ball.

2. (US black) a car; thus on rubber, driving a car; also attrib.

[US] ‘Hectic Harlem’ in N.Y. Amsterdam News 8 Feb, sect. 2: ON RUBBER – Used to signify a person who owns a car, as ‘So-and-so is now on the rubber.’.
[US] ‘Sl. among Nebraska Negroes’ in AS XIII:4 Dec. 317/1: To be on rubber or to be on wheels means to have a car.
Dan Burley ‘Back Door Stuff’ 29 Jan. [synd. col.] The Harlem ‘rubber’ routine of from Central Park to 155th St [...] and across the bridge to St Nicholas Ave. where they could park in all their unpaid-for glory.
[US]L. Hughes Tambourines to Glory II ii: All good-looking women like to ride on rubber.
[US](con. 1948) G. Mandel Flee the Angry Strangers 190: How’d you like to chase around in a rubber like this all the time, beautiful?
[US]‘Ed Lacy’ Room to Swing 11: ‘I’m on rubber,’ I said, nodding at the Jaguar.

3. (orig. US, also rubber goods) a contraceptive sheath.

[US]‘R. Scully’ Scarlet Pansy 270: Lovely rubber goods appropriate to the sex of the individual.
[US]C. Willingham End as a Man (1952) 91: Maybe next time you’ll use a rubber.
[US]W. Burroughs Naked Lunch (1968) 198: I went down to Doc Parker’s again to get me a rubber.
[US]H. Selby Jr Last Exit to Brooklyn 277: She was sure she was pregnant. That night the rubber broke.
[Ire]C. Brown Down All the Days 163: I hope he brought his rubbers with him [...] Durex is a man’s best friend.
[US]L. Kramer Faggots 271: Fourteen rubbers, seven diaphragms.
[UK]P. Barker Blow Your House Down 42: ‘How much is it?’ [...] ‘Fiver. Straight sex with a rubber.’.
[UK]S. Berkoff West in Decadence and Other Plays (1985) 92: [The] floating rubbers from some hectic night that others have.
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 7: The litter [...] of spent rubbers that squished like slugs.
[UK]Guardian Guide 29 May-4 June 87: By the end of the night it’s three pints of beer and a rubber.
[UK]Fallacy ‘Ooh’ 🎵 It’s Trojans, ’cos I love my rubbers.
[UK]K. Richards Life 27: Filthy magazines lying around. Used rubbers. Flies buzzing.
[US]T. Pluck Bad Boy Boogie [ebook] Joey and Nicky found used rubbers along the curb behind the grammar school.
Twitter 4 Sept. 🌐 Here at RFC Netheravon we hand out rubbers by the truckload.... mainly replacement rubber hoses but also a few boxes of French ticklers too.
[US](con. 1962) J. Ellroy Enchanters 233: Doc Shelley habituates beauty pageants and slides the girls rubbers.

4. (also piece of rubber) a fake or forged cheque; thus drop rubber, rubber up v., to pass such a cheque.

[US]W. Winchell On Broadway 21 Mar. [synd. col.] Now there’s a shortage of rubber, what’s he using for checks?
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 181/1: Rubber. 1. Forged checks or other instruments.
[US]‘Ed Lacy’ Lead With Your Left (1958) 24: How about this paperhanger Hanson, think he could be the phony doctor dropping rubber around here?
[NZ]D. Looser Boobslang [U. Canterbury D.Phil. thesis] 156/2: rubber (also piece of rubber) n. a cheque rendered invalid by lack of sufficient funds [...] rubber up to pass an iinvalid cheque.

5. (US) a set of tyres.

[US]W. Brown Teen-Age Mafia 102: Whitey pushed the Jaguar up to eighty [...] eating up rubber.
[US]N. Thornburg Cutter and Bone (2001) 8: At the very least it [i.e. money] would have meant new rubber and a valve job.

6. see rubber cheque n.

In compounds

dead rubber (n.)

(US) in fig use of sense 3, something worthless.

[UK]Guardian G2 3 July 6/3: The group’s debut album [was] pushed further and further back before Yams declared it a dead rubber.
rubber and rocks (n.) [the over-cooked consistency of both]

(N.Z. prison) bacon and eggs.

[NZ]D. Looser Boobslang [U. Canterbury D.Phil. thesis] 156/2: rubber and rocks n. bacon and eggs.
rubber goods (n.)

see sense 3 above.

rubber lark (n.)

(UK und.) selling contraceptive sheaths.

[UK]Thieves Slang ms list from District Police Training Centre, Ryton-on-Dunsmore, Warwicks 9: Rubber lark: Selling rubber goods.
rubber shop (n.) [sense 3 above; in a puritan era, such shops were a primary source of contraceptives]

a sex shop.

[UK]‘George Orwell’ Keep The Aspidistra Flying (1962) 11: When darkness hid his blushes, he’d slink into one of the rubber-shops and buy High Jinks in a Parisian Convent.
[UK]R. Westerby Wide Boys Never Work (1938) 162: He turned aside and looked into the window of a rubber shop. Strewth!
[UK]C. Harris Three-Ha’Pence to the Angel 143: Charing Cross Road with its slum-grey cliffs, its rubber shops and spivs.

In phrases

burn rubber (v.)

see separate entry.

peel rubber (v.) (also catch rubber, peel, peel off, peel out) [the smoking tyres that accompany acceleration]

to drive a car very fast.

‘Yulesville’ in Bench Racer at 🌐 He laid the jazz on me and peeled from the gig, / Wailing, ‘Have a cool Yule, Man!’ and clutched off in his rig.
[US]J. Ellroy Brown’s Requiem 14: I jammed on the gas, peeling rubber.
[US]M. Myers et al. Wayne’s World [film script] The light changes and they peel off.
[US]C. Hiaasen Stormy Weather 298: Augustine punched the accelerator and peeled rubber.
[US](con. 1986) G. Pelecanos Sweet Forever 150: Monroe tossed dollars at the Ethiopian parking attendant, caught rubber leaving the lot.
[US]C. Hiaasen Nature Girl 145: Skinner heard rubber peeling [...] Louis Piejack’s truck, speeding away.
[US]J. Díaz This Is How You Lose Her 178: They flip you the bird and peel out.
[US]J. Ellroy Widespread Panic 283: I gunned my sled and peeled through the rear-exit alley.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

rubber queen (n.) [SE rubber + -queen sfx]

(orig. gay) a rubber fetishist.

[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 174: rubber queen rubber fetishist; one who wears rubber, fucks on rubber sheets, etc.
[US]Maledicta III:2 236: Conservative homosexuals use it pejoratively: dizzy queen, rubber queen, and dinge queen.

In phrases

where the rubber meets the road (n.)

(US) in fig. use, the desired place.

[US]M. Shulman Rally Round the Flag, Boys! (1959) 149: Now we’re getting down to where the rubber meets the road.
[US]T. Dorsey Atomic Lobster 2: Let me give you the skinny from where the rubber meets the road.