rub the wrong way, to

rub someone('s fur) the wrong way

Fig. to irritate someone. I'm sorry I rubbed your fur the wrong way. I didn't mean to upset you. Don't rub her the wrong way!
See also: rub, way, wrong

rub the wrong way

Irritate, annoy, as in His remarks about welfare rubbed a great many people the wrong way. This idiom alludes to rubbing an animal's fur in the wrong direction. [Mid-1800s] Also see ruffle someone's feathers.
See also: rub, way, wrong

rub (someone) the wrong way

To annoy; irritate: "One can see ... how [his] expression of his ideals and intentions must have rubbed many people the wrong way" (Christopher Lehmann-Haupt).
See also: rub, way, wrong

rub the wrong way, to

To annoy. This expression transfers rubbing a cat’s fur in the wrong direction to irritating a human being. (See also against the grain.) The British locution is to rub someone up the wrong way and dates from the mid-nineteenth century. “Don’t rub her prejudices up the wrong way,” wrote H. Aïdé (Carr of Carrlyou, 1862).
See also: rub, wrong