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verb (used with object), rapped, rap·ping.
  1. to strike, especially with a quick, smart, or light blow: He rapped the door with his cane.
  2. to utter sharply or vigorously: to rap out a command.
  3. (of a spirit summoned by a medium) to communicate (a message) by raps (often followed by out).
  4. Slang. to criticize sharply: Critics could hardly wait to rap the play.
  5. Slang. to arrest, detain, or sentence for a crime.
  6. Metallurgy. to jar (a pattern) loose from a sand mold.
verb (used without object), rapped, rap·ping.
  1. to knock smartly or lightly, especially so as to make a noise: to rap on a door.
  2. Slang. to talk or discuss, especially freely, openly, or volubly; chat.
  3. Slang. to talk rhythmically to the beat of rap music.
  1. a quick, smart, or light blow: a rap on the knuckles with a ruler.
  2. the sound produced by such a blow: They heard a loud rap at the door.
  3. Slang. blame or punishment, especially for a crime.
  4. Slang. a criminal charge: a murder rap.
  5. Slang. response, reception, or judgment: The product has been getting a very bad rap.
  6. Slang.
    1. a talk, conversation, or discussion; chat.
    2. talk designed to impress, convince, etc.; spiel: a high-pressure sales rap.
  7. rap music.
  1. beat the rap, Slang. to succeed in evading the penalty for a crime; be acquitted: The defendant calmly insisted that he would beat the rap.
  2. take the rap, Slang. to take the blame and punishment for a crime committed by another: He took the rap for the burglary.

Origin of rap1

1300–50; 1960–65 for def 8; Middle English rappen (v.), rap(p)e (noun); akin to Swedish rappa to beat, drub, German rappeln to rattle; senses “to talk,” “conversation, talk” perhaps of distinct orig., though the hypothesis that it is a shortening of repartee is questionable
Can be confusedrap wraprapped rapt wrapped
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
British Dictionary definitions for take the rap


verb raps, rapping or rapped
  1. to strike (a fist, stick, etc) against (something) with a sharp quick blow; knockhe rapped at the door
  2. (intr) to make a sharp loud sound, esp by knocking
  3. (tr) to rebuke or criticize sharply
  4. (tr foll by out) to put (forth) in sharp rapid speech; utter in an abrupt fashionto rap out orders
  5. (intr) slang to talk, esp volubly
  6. (intr) to perform a rhythmic monologue with a musical backing
  7. rap over the knuckles to reprimand
  1. a sharp quick blow or the sound produced by such a blow
  2. a sharp rebuke or criticism
  3. slang voluble talk; chatterstop your rap
    1. a fast, rhythmic monologue over a prerecorded instrumental track
    2. (as modifier)rap music
  4. slang a legal charge or case
  5. beat the rap US and Canadian slang to escape punishment or be acquitted of a crime
  6. take the rap slang to suffer the consequences of a mistake, misdeed, or crime, whether guilty or not
Derived Formsrapping, noun

Word Origin

C14: probably of Scandinavian origin; compare Swedish rappa to beat


  1. (used with a negative) the least amount (esp in the phrase not to care a rap)

Word Origin

C18: probably from ropaire counterfeit coin formerly current in Ireland


verb, noun
  1. Australian informal a variant spelling of wrap (def. 8), wrap (def. 14)
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

Word Origin and History for take the rap



c.1300, "a quick, light blow, stroke," also "a fart" (late 15c.), native or borrowed from a Scandinavian source (cf. Danish rap, Swedish rapp "light blow"); either way probably of imitative origin (cf. slap, clap).

Slang meaning "rebuke, blame, responsibility" is from 1777; specific meaning "criminal indictment" (cf. rap sheet, 1960) is from 1903. To beat the rap is from 1927. Meaning "music with improvised words" first in New York City slang, 1979 (see rap (v.2)).



mid-14c., "strike, smite, knock," from rap (n.). Related: Rapped; rapping. To rap (someone's) knuckles "give light punishment" is from 1749. Related: Rapped; rapping.



"talk informally, chat," 1929, popularized c.1965 in Black English, possibly first in Caribbean English and from British slang meaning "say, utter" (1879), originally "to utter a sudden oath" (1540s), ultimately from rap (n.). As a noun in this sense from 1898. Meaning "to perform rap music" is recorded by 1979. Related: Rapped; rapping.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

take the rap in Culture

take the rap

To be punished or blamed, especially when innocent: “The crime boss arranged it so that his underling took the rap for the insurance scam.”


A form of pop music characterized by spoken or chanted rhymed lyrics, with a syncopated, repetitive accompaniment. Rap music originated in the second half of the twentieth century in black urban communities. (See also hip-hop.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with take the rap

take the rap

Be punished or blamed for something, as in I don't want to take the rap for Mary, who forgot to mail the check in time, or Steve is such a nice guy that he's always taking the rap for his colleagues. This slangy idiom originally used rap in the sense of “a criminal charge,” a usage still current. By the mid-1900s it was also used more broadly.


In addition to the idiom beginning with rap

also see:

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.