As a renewable nanomaterial, nanocellulose displays excellent performances and exhibits wide application potentials. However, nanocellulose has extremely strong hydrophilicity due to its abundant hydroxyl groups. Thus, the above characteristics not only seriously affect the performance of nanocellulose in terms of hydrophobicity, but also limit its applications in the field of composite materials to a certain extent. This article summarized the research advances of hydrophobic modification of nanocellulose in three aspects:physical adsorption, surface chemical modification(silylation, alkanoylation, esterification, etc.), and polymer graft copolymerization. Current wide applications of hydrophobic nanocellulose were also summarized in fields of packaging materials, papermaking, and water purification. At the end of this paper, the future development of hydrophobically modified nanocellulose was prospected, aiming to provide reference for the research and wide application of hydrophobic nanocellulose.