rub elbows with, to

rub elbows with (someone)

To interact or mingle with a person or group. I don't want to go to the gala tonight, but my wife is eager to rub elbows with the upper class.
See also: elbow, rub
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

rub elbows with

Also, rub shoulders with. Mix or socialize with, as in There's nothing like rubbing elbows with the rich and famous, or At the reception diplomats were rubbing shoulders with heads of state. Both of these terms allude to being in close contact with someone. [Mid-1800s]
See also: elbow, rub
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

rub elbows with, to

To associate unexpectedly closely with. This term originated in Britain as rub shoulders with, which is still the more common locution there. Thackeray used it in his Book of Snobs (1848): “She had rubbed shoulders with the great.” Elbows are preferred in America, as in Upton Sinclair’s muckraking novel, The Jungle (1906): “Young white girls from the country rubbing elbows with big buck Negroes with daggers in their boots.”
See also: elbow, rub, to
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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