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rip-rap

noun
  1. civil engineering broken stones loosely deposited in water or on a soft bottom to provide a foundation and protect a riverbed or river banks from scour: used for revetments, embankments, breakwaters, etc
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Word Origin

C19: reduplication of rap 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

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Word Origin and History for rip-rap

n.

also riprap, "loose stone thrown down in water or soft ground as foundation," 1822, American English, perhaps connected with earlier nautical word rip-rap meaning "stretch of rippling water" (often caused by underwater elevations), 1660s, probably of imitative origin (cf. riprap "a sharp blow," 1570s).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper