from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To hit sharply and swiftly; strike.
  • intransitive verb To utter sharply.
  • intransitive verb To criticize or blame.
  • intransitive verb To strike a quick light blow.
  • noun A quick light blow or knock.
  • noun A knocking or tapping sound.
  • noun A reprimand.
  • noun A sentence to serve time in prison.
  • noun Slang A negative quality or characteristic associated with a person or an object.
  • idiom (beat the rap) To escape punishment or be acquitted of a charge.
  • idiom (take the rap) To accept punishment or take the blame for an offense or error.
  • noun The least bit.
  • noun Slang A talk, conversation, or discussion.
  • noun A form of popular music developed especially in African-American urban communities and characterized by spoken or chanted rhyming lyrics with a strong rhythmic accompaniment.
  • noun A composition or performance of such music.
  • intransitive verb Slang To discuss something freely and at length.
  • intransitive verb To perform rap music.
  • intransitive verb To perform as rap music.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A heavy or quick, smart, blow; a sharp or resounding knock; concussion from striking.
  • noun A sound produced by knocking, as at a door, or by any sharp concussion; specifically, in modern spiritualism, a ticking or knocking noise produced by no apparent physical means, and ascribed to the agency of disembodied spirits.
  • To snatch or hurry away; seize by violence; carry off; transport; ravish.
  • To transport out of one's self; affect with ecstasy or rapture; carry away; absorb; engross.
  • noun A counterfeit coin of bad metal which passed current in Ireland for a halfpenny in the reign of George I., before the issue of Wood's halfpence.
  • To scratch.
  • noun A Middle English form of rope.
  • To beat upon; strike heavily or smartly; give a quick, sharp blow to, as with the fist, a door-knocker, a stick, or the like; knock upon.
  • To use in striking; make a blow or blows with.
  • To utter sharply: speak out: usually with out (see phrase below).
  • To produce or indicate by rapping sounds; impart by a series of significant raps: as, to rap out a communication or a signal: used specifically of the supposed transmission of spiritual intelligence in this way through the instrumentality of mediums.
  • Synonyms To thump, whack.
  • To deal a heavy blow or heavy blows; beat.
  • To fall with a stroke or blow; drop so as to strike.
  • To strike a quick, sharp blow; make a sound by knocking, as on a door: as, to rap for admittance.
  • To take an oath; swear; especially, to swear falsely: compare to rap out , above.
  • noun A lay or skein of yarn containing 120 yards.
  • noun A Middle English preterit of reap.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A lay or skein containing 120 yards of yarn.
  • noun A quick, smart blow; a knock.
  • transitive verb To strike with a quick blow; to knock on.
  • transitive verb (Founding) To free (a pattern) in a mold by light blows on the pattern, so as to facilitate its removal.
  • intransitive verb To strike with a quick, sharp blow; to knock.
  • noun A popular name for any of the tokens that passed current for a half-penny in Ireland in the early part of the eighteenth century; any coin of trifling value.
  • noun to care nothing.
  • noun worth nothing.
  • noun conversation; also, rapping.
  • noun a type of rhythmic talking, often with accompanying rhythm instruments; rap music.
  • transitive verb To snatch away; to seize and hurry off.
  • transitive verb obsolete To hasten.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English rappen, possibly of imitative origin.]

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[From obsolete rap, 18th-century Irish counterfeit halfpenny, from Irish Gaelic, alteration (possibly influenced by rap, piece, bit) of ropaire, cutthroat; see rapparee.]

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Possibly from rap.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English rappen, of North Germanic origin, related to Swedish rappa ("to strike, beat, rap"), German rappeln ("to rattle").

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English rap, rappe, of North Germanic origin, related to Norwegian rapp ("a blow, strike, lash"), Swedish rapp ("a blow, lash, crack"), Danish rap ("a tap, smart, blow"). Compare Old English hreppan ("to touch, treat"). More at rape.


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word rap.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Par in reverse.

    November 2, 2007

  • "How many times did Jimi try it on with friends and find he had nothing but fans? How many times did he start to rap charming with his bush-baby eyes and his ready smile and that fast sharp patter only to find no comeback but fawning? How often did the rapping change to panhandling and then to sneering because his friends were nothing but an audience and they didn't know the difference between the panhandling and the straight rap? How often did the caress and the compliment change to insult and assault? His foxy ladies turned to slags and pigs in a second."

    - 'Hey, Jimi, Where You Gonna Run To Now?', Germaine Greer in Oz, 1970.

    March 31, 2008