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adjective, sometimes rap·id·er, rap·id·est.
  1. occurring within a short time; happening speedily: rapid growth.
  2. moving or acting with great speed; swift: a rapid worker.
  3. characterized by speed: rapid motion.
  1. 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 formsrap·id·ly, adverbul·tra·rap·id, adjectiveul·tra·rap·id·ly, adverb
Can be confusedfast quick rapid swift (see synonym study at quick)

Synonyms for rapid

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2. See quick.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for rapids

river, rapine, whitewater

Examples from the Web for rapids

Contemporary Examples of rapids

Historical Examples of rapids

British Dictionary definitions for rapids


pl n
  1. part of a river where the current is very fast and turbulent


  1. (of an action or movement) performed or occurring during a short interval of time; quicka rapid transformation
  2. characterized by high speedrapid movement
  3. acting or moving quickly; fasta rapid worker
See also rapids
Derived Formsrapidly, adverbrapidity (rəˈpɪdɪtɪ) or rapidness, noun

Word Origin for rapid

C17: from Latin rapidus tearing away, from rapere to seize; see rape 1
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 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