the act or sound of a person or thing that raps.
communication by the sound of taps or knocks, as between medium and spirit during a séance.

Origin of rapping

1350–1400; Middle English. See rap1, -ing1



verb (used with object), rapped, rap·ping.

to strike, especially with a quick, smart, or light blow: He rapped the door with his cane.
to utter sharply or vigorously: to rap out a command.
(of a spirit summoned by a medium) to communicate (a message) by raps (often followed by out).
Slang. to criticize sharply: Critics could hardly wait to rap the play.
Slang. to arrest, detain, or sentence for a crime.
Metallurgy. to jar (a pattern) loose from a sand mold.

verb (used without object), rapped, rap·ping.

to knock smartly or lightly, especially so as to make a noise: to rap on a door.
Slang. to talk or discuss, especially freely, openly, or volubly; chat.
Slang. to talk rhythmically to the beat of rap music.


a quick, smart, or light blow: a rap on the knuckles with a ruler.
the sound produced by such a blow: They heard a loud rap at the door.
Slang. blame or punishment, especially for a crime.
Slang. a criminal charge: a murder rap.
Slang. response, reception, or judgment: The product has been getting a very bad rap.
  1. a talk, conversation, or discussion; chat.
  2. talk designed to impress, convince, etc.; spiel: a high-pressure sales rap.

Origin of rap

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



verb (used with object), rapped or rapt, rap·ping. Archaic.

to carry off; transport.
to transport with rapture.
to seize for oneself; snatch.

Origin of rap

First recorded in 1520–30; back formation from rapt
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for rapping

Contemporary Examples of rapping

Historical Examples of rapping

British Dictionary definitions for rapping



verb raps, rapping or rapped

to strike (a fist, stick, etc) against (something) with a sharp quick blow; knockhe rapped at the door
(intr) to make a sharp loud sound, esp by knocking
(tr) to rebuke or criticize sharply
(tr foll by out) to put (forth) in sharp rapid speech; utter in an abrupt fashionto rap out orders
(intr) slang to talk, esp volubly
(intr) to perform a rhythmic monologue with a musical backing
rap over the knuckles to reprimand


a sharp quick blow or the sound produced by such a blow
a sharp rebuke or criticism
slang voluble talk; chatterstop your rap
  1. a fast, rhythmic monologue over a prerecorded instrumental track
  2. (as modifier)rap music
slang a legal charge or case
beat the rap US and Canadian slang to escape punishment or be acquitted of a crime
take the rap slang to suffer the consequences of a mistake, misdeed, or crime, whether guilty or not
Derived Formsrapping, noun

Word Origin for rap

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




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

Word Origin for rap

C18: probably from ropaire counterfeit coin formerly current in Ireland



verb, noun

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 rapping

c.1400, verbal noun from rap (v.1). Meaning "talking" is from 1969; meaning "rap music performance" is from 1979, from rap (v.2).



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

rapping in Culture


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 rapping


In addition to the idiom beginning with rap

  • rap someone's knuckles

also see:

  • beat the rap
  • bum rap
  • not give a damn (rap)
  • take the rap
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.