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Rubberneck is a closed compound word. A closed compound word is one that is derived from two separate words joined together without a hyphen or space. We will examine the definition of rubberneck, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

To rubberneck means to gawk at something one finds of interest. In the United States, the term rubberneck is most often used to describe drivers slowing down to look at a car accident as they pass it. Rubberneck is a verb, related words are rubbernecks, rubbernecked, rubbernecking. The Oxford English Dictionary lists rubberneck as a noun, though more often the noun form is rendered as rubbernecker. The word rubberneck was invented in the United States in the 1890s to describe tourists who stared at buildings and other phenomena with unbridled curiosity. The idea is that the person twists, turns and bends his neck about in a manner that resembles the properties of rubber. The term rubberneck carries a slightly negative connotation, especially when related to an accident.


Near Spanish Fork, traffic slowed to a crawl so everyone could rubberneck some accidents and cause some more. (The Salt Lake Tribune)

“But by the time Nunberg reached his third studio, it felt like rubbernecking an accident, or watching Charlie Sheen’s meltdown, especially if the anchors interviewing him could smell booze on his breath.” (Vanity Fair Magazine)

A Houston man triggered a lot of rubbernecking this past weekend when he was seen riding an Astros-decorated chair powered by a hoverboard. (The Houston Chronicle)

A Dh1,000 fine for rubbernecking is one of many additions to a traffic law that came into effect on Saturday. (The National)

I really don’t know how much rubbernecking curiosity an American Idol on ABC can inspire. (The Hollywood Reporter)