Green’s Dictionary of Slang

grub v.1

[grub n.2 (1) + SE grub up, to uproot, i.e. whatever can be found/begged]

1. (also grub out, grub up) to eat; thus grub and bub, to eat and drink.

[UK] ‘The Politick Club’ in Playford Pills to Purge Melancholy II 277: A Country Bumpkin that Trees did grub.
[UK] ‘Frisky Moll’s Song’ in J. Thurmond Harlequin Sheppard 22: I Frisky Moll, with my rum coll, / Wou’d Grub in a bowzing ken; / But ere for the scran he had tipt the cole, / The Harman he came in.
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK] ‘The Flash Man of St. Giles’ in Farmer Musa Pedestris (1896) 75: We live in pefect harmony, / And grub and bub our fill.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]‘One of the Fancy’ Tom Crib’s Memorial to Congress 28: What with snoozing, high grubbing, and guzzling like Cloe, / Your Majesties, pardon me, all get so doughy.
[UK] ‘The Chummies’ Society’ in Fun Alive O! 54: They grubb’d well at all they could get.
[UK]‘The St Giles’s Flash Man’ in Facetious Songster in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) III 250: We live in perfect harmony, / [A]nd grub and bub our fill.
[UK]Thackeray Vanity Fair III 258: Seeing these nobs grubbing away has made me peckish too.
[US]T. Haliburton Sam Slick’s Wise Saws I 137: Here’s where we grub.
[UK]Vanity Fair (N.Y.) 28 Sept. 153: Next week it will probably be announced that the Empress Eugenie has been to the opera with a few of the Old Imperial ‘Cove’s Pals,’ and that the latter ‘grubbed’ with her, after the performance, at the Royal ‘crib’.
[UK]C. Hindley Life and Adventures of a Cheap Jack 192: They would be so busy all day at the fair there would be no time to think of grubbing.
[UK]W.A. Baillie-Grohman Camps in the Rockies 46: We lived exclusively, or, as the phrase is, ‘grubbed straight,’ on bread and coffee.
[UK]Binstead & Wells Pink ’Un and Pelican 174: Tonight I’ve promised to grub with Freddy Pulman.
[US]O. Wister Virginian 184: Oh, let’s grub first.
[UK]P. Macgill ‘Padding It’ Songs of the Dead End 40: Hashing it out like a nigger on a two and a tanner sub, [...] grubbed on a sausage roll.
[US]D. Hammett ‘Corkscrew’ Story Omnibus (1966) 198: You can grub up at the Toad’s — if you ain’t particular.
[NZ]B. Stronach Musterer on Molesworth 4: Once I saw our packman [...] grubbing gorse.
[US]B. Jackson Get Your Ass in the Water (1974) 52: I doned on reefers and grubbed on dope.
[US]H.E. Roberts Third Ear n.p.: grub v. to eat voraciously.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Fall 3: grub [...] grub out – to eat.
[US]Da Bomb [Internet] 14: Grubbing out: Indulging in food.
[US]R. Jacobs in San Jose Mercury News 11 May n.p.: Grubbing (v) – Eating. I was grubbing when Laura called.
[US]N. McCall Them (2008) 14: He [...] took the pork chops off the stove. [...] ‘C’mon, Unk. Lez grub and go ride.’.

2. to provide with food.

[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang. in McLachlan (1964) 244: To grub a person, is to diet him, or find him in victuals.
[UK]Caledonian Mercury 13 June 3/4: Now-and-then stopping to grub the prads or sluice the ivories with some Adam’s ale.
[UK]Dickens Pickwick Papers (1999) 291: I never see such a chap to eat and drink — never. The red-nosed man warn’t by no means the sort of person you’d like to grub by contract, but he was nothin’ to the shepherd.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 6 July 2/7: May you never [...] be grubbed upon measly pork and weevily Tommy.
[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor III 78/2: I pay my men [...] besides lodge, clean and grub him.
[UK]J. Greenwood Dick Temple II 263: I’ll grub you, lodge you, and find you clothes.
[UK] ‘’Arry on Marriage’ in Punch 29 Sept. 156/1: You remember Bob Binks — a rare dasher [...] / Now he ’as to grub seven, all told, and he ain’t five years older than me.
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
[US]DN II 236: Grub yersef [...] To eat. Used facetiously.
[US]E. Dahlberg Bottom Dogs 230: They were just like a lot of kids you took the trouble of bringing into the world and grubbin’ them till they were old enuf to be caring for themselves.

3. to beg, to scrounge; thus on the grub.

[US]Wkly Varieties (Boston, MA) 3 Sept. 6/1: [H]anging around the Music Hall, trying either to ‘grub a cheek,’ or to sneak in.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 4 Apr. 13/2: A correspondent from Casino says: ‘We Casinoites are not of the grubbing sort.’.
[US]W. De Vere ‘Roger’ Tramp Poems 17: Grubbin’ like blazes to keep up His end, in some cursed hard times.
[US]K. McGaffey Sorrows of a Show Girl Ch. xiii: Me grub, and I got money in the bank? Sure I do. I got to keep in training somehow.
[US]J. Conroy Disinherited 182: Forget about making a success by grubbing, kid!
[US]W.D. Overholser Buckaroo’s Code (1948) 35: I told June I didn’t want no money-grubbers like Jackson Malloy marrying into the Flagg family.
[US]Murtagh & Harris Cast the First Stone 123: You spent all week grubbing for your food and shelter and looked for sex in between the grubbing.
[US]H. Selby Jr Last Exit to Brooklyn 67: He sat back quickly, took a drink and grubbed a smoke from Harry.
[US]H.S. Thompson in Proud Highway 320: Thompson first met free-lance journalist Olay in Big Sur when they were both broke and grubbing for money.

4. to scavenge.

[UK]R. Rowe Picked Up in the Streets 74: [a bone-grubber] I’ve been grubbing for many a year now.