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[rap-id] /ˈræp ɪd/
adjective, sometimes, rapider, rapidest.
occurring within a short time; happening speedily:
rapid growth.
moving or acting with great speed; swift:
a rapid worker.
characterized by speed:
rapid motion.
Usually, rapids. a part of a river where the current runs very swiftly.
Origin of rapid
First recorded in 1625-35, rapid is from the Latin word rapidus tearing away, seizing, swift. See rape1, -id4
Related forms
rapidly, adverb
ultrarapid, adjective
ultrarapidly, adverb
Can be confused
fast, quick, rapid, swift (see synonym study at quick)
2. See quick. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for rapids
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • There was no time to examine the rapids before we shot them.

    The Long Labrador Trail Dillon Wallace
  • The rapids continued the characteristic of the river and were terrific.

    The Long Labrador Trail Dillon Wallace
  • At the foot of “The rapids” the effect of the spring tides is barely perceptible.

    The Long Labrador Trail Dillon Wallace
  • The first rapids in the Red River are said to be eight miles above its mouth.

    The Long Labrador Trail Dillon Wallace
  • There are, however, in this distance but two rapids necessitating portages.

    The Long Labrador Trail Dillon Wallace
  • In such circumstance you will hear what the voyageurs call the voices of the rapids.

    The Forest Stewart Edward White
  • Down to him from the bridge through the rapids has safely passed.

    Poems William D. Howells
British Dictionary definitions for rapids


plural noun
part of a river where the current is very fast and turbulent


(of an action or movement) performed or occurring during a short interval of time; quick: a rapid transformation
characterized by high speed: rapid movement
acting or moving quickly; fast: a rapid worker
See also rapids
Derived Forms
rapidly, adverb
rapidity (rəˈpɪdɪtɪ), rapidness, noun
Word Origin
C17: from Latin rapidus tearing away, from rapere to seize; see rape1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for rapids

1765, from French rapides (see rapid); applied by French voyagers to rough, swift-flowing reaches in North American rivers.



1630s, "moving quickly," from French rapide (17c.) and directly from Latin rapidus "hasty, swift, rapid; snatching; fierce, impetuous," from rapere "hurry away, carry off, seize, plunder," from PIE root *rep- "to snatch" (cf. Greek ereptomai "devour," harpazein "snatch away," Lithuanian raples "tongs"). Meaning "happening in a short time" is from 1780. Related: Rapidly; rapidness. Rapid-transit first attested 1852, in reference to street railways; rapid eye movement is from 1906.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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