Main definitions of rap in US English:

: rap1rap2



  • 1with object Strike (a hard surface) with a series of rapid audible blows, especially in order to attract attention.

    ‘he stood up and rapped the table’
    no object ‘she rapped angrily on the window’
    • ‘The dark-haired boy rapped on the strange panel with his knuckles.’
    • ‘She had reached the door to her mother's room, and gently rapped on it until she called out.’
    • ‘I screamed as someone rapped on my window with their knuckles.’
    • ‘I walked downstairs in a towel and rapped on the front desk.’
    • ‘The door was locked, but he rapped on it softly for several minutes and finally it swung open.’
    • ‘Sara rapped on my desk loudly and interrupted our conversation.’
    • ‘After this was done he moved to the coffin and rapped on the lid three times.’
    • ‘She quickly stepped over him and rapped on Jack and Michael's door.’
    • ‘At that moment Peach looked their way and rapped on the table with a jeweled rod.’
    • ‘There was a light at the back of the building and she rapped on the glass hoping someone would hear.’
    • ‘The teacher rapped on his desk twice and stood up.’
    • ‘Janet followed Bill to the basement window, where Bill jumped lightly into the window well and rapped on the window.’
    • ‘Pat anxiously rapped on each of the windows, concerned that occupants of the home might have been trapped inside.’
    • ‘Daimon rapped on the cold glass and fogged it with her breath.’
    • ‘The teacher rapped on the chalkboard with a yardstick, making some of the kids fall out of their desk comically.’
    • ‘When the man didn't seem to notice, Joey rapped on the counter hard.’
    • ‘Early the next morning, Angela rapped on Kieran's door.’
    • ‘Fox rapped on the table to call the meeting to order.’
    • ‘She curled her fingers into a fist and rapped on the window.’
    • ‘He rapped on my window, completely startling me.’
    hit, strike, bang, thump, knock
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Strike (something) against a hard surface with rapid audible blows.
      ‘she rapped her stick on the floor’
      • ‘I pulled my hat back on my head before rapping my knuckles against the heavy wooden door for the third time that day.’
      • ‘‘Sorry,’ he repeats, unable to look at her as he raps a knuckle on the reinforced glass window.’
      • ‘She didn't look up until he had ascended the porch steps and rapped his knuckles on the railing.’
      • ‘She let out an annoyed growl and rapped her knuckle against the window.’
      • ‘Walking out, I rapped my knuckles hard on Mya's door.’
      • ‘She rapped her knuckles on the glass divide.’
      • ‘I ran my hand along the wall; then, I rapped my knuckles against it.’
      • ‘She rapped the ruler even harder on my desk and returned to the blackboard and continued talking about parabolas.’
      • ‘I rapped a knuckle against the Kevlar on my chest.’
      • ‘Mia knocked loudly on the door, rapping her knuckles hard against the steel wall that separated her from her boyfriend.’
      • ‘He bellowed, rapping his knuckles hard against the door.’
      • ‘He rapped his walking stick hard on the dirty cobblestone path, three times in quick succession.’
      • ‘Walker rapped his knuckles against his head, perplexed.’
      • ‘I rapped my knuckles on the splintering wood twice, paused, and knocked again once.’
      knock, tap
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 Strike (someone or something) sharply with stick or similar implement.
      ‘she rapped my fingers with a ruler’
      • ‘Franki took a spoon and rapped Bridget over the head with it sharply.’
      • ‘The combination of the cold and the force of the blow was incredibly painful, but I gritted my teeth and whirled around, rapping him sharply on the knees.’
      • ‘My father cussed, brandishing a fallen stick and rapping him across his haunches.’
    3. 1.3informal Rebuke or criticize sharply.
      ‘executives rapped the U.S. for having too little competition in international phone service’
      • ‘At the 1998 Nagano Olympics, he was rapped by Bazay for criticizing the selection of freestyle skier Jean-Luc Brassard as Canada's flag-bearer.’
      reprimand, reproach, scold, admonish, reprove, remonstrate with, chastise, chide, upbraid, berate, take to task, pull up, castigate, lambaste, read someone the riot act, give someone a piece of one's mind, haul over the coals, criticize, censure
      rebuke, reprimand, reproach, scold, admonish, reprove, remonstrate with, chastise, chide, upbraid, berate, take to task, pull up, castigate, lambaste, read someone the riot act, give someone a piece of one's mind, haul over the coals, criticize, censure
      View synonyms
    4. 1.4 Say sharply or suddenly.
      ‘the ambassador rapped out an order’
  • 2North American informal no object Talk or chat in an easy and familiar manner.

    ‘we could be here all night rapping about the finer points of spiritualism’
    • ‘Jean Grae responds, and then she raps about baseball, sounding like a natural.’
    • ‘Just call her up to rap about it.’
  • 3no object Perform rap music.

    • ‘If children hear people singing and rapping about drugs, sex, money, and killing in a glamorous way, then it may lead them to believe that this negative life is one they should live.’
    • ‘Here, instead of trying to match their vocals to pop music, players must rap along to a large group of hip-hop favorites.’
    • ‘It was a white dude rapping and playing an acoustic guitar.’
    • ‘I don't rap too well but I've always liked making mix tapes.’
    • ‘Ice T rapped, then rocked with his metal band Body Count.’
    • ‘I happened to catch 19 seconds of Will Smith rapping at the NBA finals game.’
    • ‘Juvenile is one of those American hip hop originals who, despite all kinds of chit chat and blatant attacks on his ability to rap at all, managed to play a major role in spearheading the hip hop opening of the South.’
    • ‘Speaking from experience they rap about how hopelessness can lead to alcoholism and how the violence of the system tears people's lives apart.’
    • ‘Most gang members are actually very personable, and I've never had any trouble rapping with them.’
    • ‘The problem is too many people waste that power rapping about all the wrong things.’
    • ‘Simmons and McDaniels started out rapping at parties, and later invited Mizell to form a group with them.’
    • ‘That's when I got hooked on hip hop and started to rap.’
    • ‘Many of the more affluent youth, who had access to learning English, rapped in that language, mixing American vernacular and phrasing into their music.’
    • ‘Let's listen in and see what they're rapping to right now.’
    • ‘When you're rapping, you can't be rapping for yourself.’
    • ‘The event was a fantastic success with students dancing, rapping and performing poetry against racism.’
    • ‘While it mainly relies on the music, when Tefrey does decide to rap, he demands your attention.’
    • ‘I am totally different from everyone else in the game because not only do I rap, I also produce, play musical instruments and sing which makes me literally, a one-man band.’
    • ‘One can't help but grin when he raps.’
    • ‘She proved she could rap with the best of them, but her singing voice leaves quite a bit to be desired.’


  • 1A quick, sharp knock or blow.

    ‘there was a confident rap at the door’
    • ‘Not before long he heard a sharp rap on the door, and a stern voice telling him no doors were to be locked in that family.’
    • ‘A sharp rap on Ryan's window eventually broke us apart.’
    • ‘Smart's parents deserve a dozen sharp raps on the head, as well.’
    • ‘A timid knock sounded, followed by a couple of bold raps on the door.’
    • ‘I was getting into bed when I heard a quick rap on the door.’
    • ‘Some minutes later, as they were finishing their meal, there was a sharp rap on the front door.’
    • ‘A quick rap at the door made Katie realize that she had been in a daze.’
    • ‘A sharp rap on his door told Dmitri that Helena had arrived.’
    • ‘That earns him a sharp rap on the shoulder, but he says he doesn't mind because my punches don't hurt.’
    • ‘If caught using her left hand, it got a rap on the knuckles with a rule.’
    • ‘Because a moment later, I hear a sharp rap on the door.’
    • ‘She waited patiently until she heard the rap of the door and raced downstairs to open up the door.’
    • ‘Three sharp raps at the door interrupted his speech and Ben looked helplessly to Marie.’
    • ‘A sharp rap at the door of the dressing room broke the two out of their romantic interlude.’
    • ‘After a brisk rap on the door, the four officers went inside the terraced house in Shirley.’
    • ‘He was deep in thought, and jumped when a sharp rap on the metal of the steel trailer rang in his ears.’
    • ‘A sharp rap at the door made the quartet's heads turn simultaneously toward the door.’
    • ‘Before he could answer Roland's question, a sharp rap on the door interrupted him.’
    • ‘A sharp rap sounded on the door and Clara reached out to open it.’
    • ‘Lifting her hand to the knot infested wood, she gave the door a quick rap with her knuckles’
    blow, hit, knock, bang, crack, thump
    knock, knocking, tap, bang, banging, hammering, battering, pounding, rat-tat
    View synonyms
  • 2A type of popular music of US black origin in which words are recited rapidly and rhythmically over a prerecorded, typically electronic instrumental backing.

    • ‘‘Hip hop’ refers to a culture that existed before rap music was ever heard on the radio.’
    • ‘So, what could listening to rap and other music have to do with improving those scores?’
    • ‘Johnson must have sung about his life, just as today's rap artists doubtless sing about their own experiences.’
    • ‘But with the rise to prominence of rap and R&B, black artists with clout have started to emerge and are more powerful than ever before.’
    • ‘The number of rap productions grew constantly and rapidly in the 1990s throughout Europe.’
    • ‘Everlast is one of the few artists who can take on a style of music like rap and bring something fresh to it while still keeping it all real.’
    • ‘There is a wide range of rock, hip hop, rap and techno music.’
    • ‘Indeed, the number of Spanish rap artists and CDs has continued to increase ever since.’
    • ‘You were one of the first prominent female solo artists in rap music.’
    • ‘The Hard Knock Life tour made it so rap artists could go out again and do arena tours.’
    • ‘Both fans of techno and fans of rap music should enjoy this album.’
    • ‘She was listening rock music and rap from a small black radio that was next to her.’
    • ‘The book is well written, carefully researched, and nicely organized, and its study of the early origins of rap is fascinating.’
    • ‘In 2001, hip-hop and rap overtook country music as the second most popular form of music bought in the United States.’
    • ‘Since then, youth involvement with rap has rapidly increased throughout the country.’
    • ‘When I would hear my students reciting rap lyrics, I used to ask them what the words actually meant.’
    • ‘In his spare time, he watches TV and listens to rap, hip-hop, R & B and reggae.’
    • ‘Reggae, pop, and rap are popular with the youth.’
    • ‘Once in a while, an artist comes along that completely revolutionizes rap music.’
    • ‘In these artists, many fans find some continuity with the fun-loving and community-oriented origins of rap.’
    1. 2.1 A piece of music performed in rap style, or the words themselves.
      • ‘Vordul's verse is uninspiring and sounds much more like spoken word poetry, rather than a proper rap.’
      • ‘‘Summer Girl’ could be one of the best singles of the year and on ‘Que Onda Guero’ he puts together his best-ever raps.’
      • ‘All of these women's raps illustrate that they can do what they are doing.’
      • ‘Roll Deep recently managed it by setting some hard urban beats and raps against some well-chosen samples and melodies.’
      • ‘Mainly produced by, and featuring, Eminem, it gives you what you'd expect - strong beats, ironic raps and bizarre alter egos.’
      • ‘We certainly can't peg Sole as a hip-hop artist based on raps alone.’
      • ‘The result fuses generic hip-hop beats and raps with some genuinely surprising performers - criss-crossing some radio-friendly funk with something a little more introspective.’
      • ‘His more unusual gambit, however, is dicing the sampled raps of various MCs into terse snippets.’
      • ‘Big Boi's raps are, as always, inventive, the words tumbling out with speed and bite.’
      • ‘All their songs were full of slang phrases and raps.’
      • ‘His voice has a limited range, but is used well, serving the slow burn of these songs far more effectively than a straightforward rap.’
      • ‘The duo take a distinctly independent approach to hip-hop, creating cinematic but melancholy beats around some telling raps from Reindeer.’
      • ‘I am fascinated by his raps and the way he started rapping.’
      • ‘So, instead of offering thoughtful lyrics that address contemporary concerns both political and social, or easing the audience into a new sound with trademark humor, he keeps the beats simple and the raps simpler.’
      • ‘His cinematic influence is to the fore again with a number of tracks, usually using Peveron's rambling raps, as vehicles to keep the album moving.’
      • ‘Their raps may be blazing, but the melodies deliberately evoke early Beach Boys memories.’
      • ‘Murs has been cultivating the art of storytelling in his raps for some time now.’
      • ‘As usual with Canibus' battle raps, the lyrics are near flawless.’
      • ‘One would assume that Mills, coming from the progressive, underground garage movement, would buttress his raps with arresting beats.’
      • ‘Luckily, K-OS has the rhymes to back up his rants, wielding a lyrical intelligence that shines both on his ardent raps and in his surprisingly smooth singing.’
  • 3North American informal A talk or discussion, especially a lengthy or impromptu one.

    ‘dropping in after work for a rap over a beer’
    as modifier ‘a rap session’
    • ‘So whenever Hilary has any of her cronies over, I have to suffer through a rap session blaring from her room.’
    • ‘In a calm, cool, and extremely friendly way, hold a rap session with your dancers and their parents.’
    • ‘He's pretty quiet at the hall meetings and the rap group sessions.’
  • 4North American informal A criminal charge, especially of a specified kind.

    ‘he's just been acquitted on a murder rap’
    • ‘Other panelists then joined in discussing whether, if true, this would suggest a perjury rap for him.’
    • ‘You go into a bar and end up in a fight, one of the two will complain and the other will get an assault rap.’
    • ‘What about the career criminal scheduled for lethal injection because a fellow inmate pinned a murder rap on him in exchange for time off?’
  • 5North American informal A person or thing's reputation, typically a bad one.

    ‘there's no reason why drag queens should get a bad rap’
    • ‘Tracy from Michigan thinks Tom is getting a bad rap.’
    • ‘Fish farmers counter that they're getting a bad rap.’
    • ‘‘He got a bad rap because there were so many problems with his later prints,’ she said.’
    • ‘If communication breaks down, the project gets a bad rap, says Barker.’
    • ‘Let's go through the U.S. numbers, because the United States gets somewhat of a bad rap on this and yet, the numbers are considerable.’
    • ‘With about a third of the private banking deposits in the whole world resting in the coffers of its banks, and a reputation for financial discretion second to none, the bad rap is inescapable.’
    • ‘Classical literature is rich in lessons of character, but often gets a bad rap because of its archaic language and unfamiliar settings.’
    • ‘We'll ask Raymone if she thinks that Michael's getting a bad rap.’
    • ‘Search engine marketing gets a bad rap for a ton of reasons.’
    • ‘And I'm not going to lose a lot of sleep thinking they got a bad rap for this woman's execution.’
    • ‘Yet, as it turns out, many of those foods have bad raps based on outdated and, sometimes, erroneous information.’
    • ‘Do you think recycling has gotten a bad rap from the media?’
    • ‘Oppression, foreign occupation, and military dictatorships get a bad rap.’
    • ‘Mr. President, do you think your wife got a bad rap?’
    • ‘Dietary fat has long gotten a bad rap from society.’
    • ‘I think they get a bad rap in history because they were the losers.’
    • ‘I think that we got a bad rap coming out of the Olympics.’
    • ‘It's a difficult thing to talk about in a way, because human intervention and control over the world have quite a bad rap at the moment.’
    • ‘The record is a stunner, offering a glimpse at a once-famous composer who has unfairly suffered a bad rap.’
    • ‘Synthetic hormones are the ones getting the bad rap.’


  • beat the rap

    • informal Escape punishment for or be acquitted of a crime.

      • ‘And one of this disgusting crew beat the rap when he was charged and tried a few years back, a time when their expressions of remorse might have actually meant something.’
      • ‘She beat the rap in August, acquitted of all charges by a federal jury in Memphis.’
      • ‘Even when doping athletes are caught, they often beat the rap.’
      • ‘It'll be a miracle if he doesn't face eviction this week, but there's a very strong chance that he'll beat the rap.’
      • ‘It also meant that Gorshkov had little hope of beating the rap.’
      • ‘Even before the crimes were committed, the White House was planning how to beat the rap.’
      • ‘The trio was under the impression that they were untouchable and would beat the rap and began to transfer their assets to relatives' modern-day off-shore accounts.’
      • ‘He'd always have a very good lawyer, who would help him beat the rap.’
      • ‘This will no doubt be a case of another celebrity beating the rap.’
      • ‘Pearson's book reveals the unseemly tactics that accused women use to beat the rap.’
  • a rap on (or over) the knuckles

    • A reprimand.

      • ‘Switzerland's not being invited looks like a rap on the knuckles.’
      • ‘The PNG government, however, rapidly received a rap over the knuckles from Washington.’
      • ‘It might be hate speech, and then she will get a rap over the knuckles and be fined.’
      • ‘If this was an isolated incident, a rap on the knuckles might be deemed sufficient.’
      • ‘Countries who want to skimp on paying for the European Union got a rap on the knuckles from Parliament president Pat Cox.’
      • ‘Cops always complain about how the courts let the bad guys they work so hard to catch just walk away with a rap on the knuckles.’
      • ‘The punishments, said to have been carried out after two internal investigations, amount to little more than a rap over the knuckles for the CIA and those singled out.’
      • ‘A rap over the knuckles that the government can choose to dismiss if it wants.’
      • ‘It won't be the central government because power equations make a rap on the knuckles impossible.’
      • ‘The most probable scenario is a rap over the knuckles, and there is no suggestion of points being deducted or a replay ordered.’
      rebuke, reprimand, reproach, reproof, admonishment, admonition, reproval, remonstration, lecture, upbraiding, castigation, lambasting, criticism, censure
      View synonyms
  • rap someone on (or over) the knuckles

    • Rebuke or criticize someone.

      • ‘One observer said: ‘If they did rap Fisher over the knuckles then no one got to know about it.’’
      • ‘Health chiefs have been rapped on the knuckles after deciding to axe services at a Bishopstoke hospital a year earlier than planned.’
      • ‘Probably someone was rapped over the knuckles for not observing the difference between the two concepts.’
      • ‘Separately, Byrne was rapped on the knuckles by the Dublin District Court for holding illegal teenage discos in the West Stand.’
      • ‘Standard Life has been rapped over the knuckles by the Financial Ombudsman for turning down claims by policyholders who got their weight wrong on application forms.’
      • ‘Meanwhile City were rapped over the knuckles by the FA yesterday at a hearing into the melee during the Preston game on September 13.’
      • ‘When should the profession rap them over the knuckles, and when should they permanently show them the door?’
      • ‘Mayo County Council has been rapped on the knuckles by An Bord Pleanála for failing to provide adequate services to areas which have the potential to be properly developed.’
      • ‘He is incensed about the November 2 announcement of a proposed antitrust settlement that he thinks barely raps them on the knuckles.’
      • ‘But the regulator also rapped her over the knuckles about inefficiencies at Dublin and Shannon airports.’
      criticize, censure, condemn, castigate, chastise, lambaste, pillory, savage, find fault with, fulminate against, abuse
      criticism, censure, rebuke, admonition, admonishment, reprimand, reproval
      rebuke, reprimand, reproach, reproof, admonishment, admonition, reproval, remonstration, lecture, upbraiding, castigation, lambasting, criticism, censure
      View synonyms
  • take the rap

    • informal Be punished or blamed, especially for something that is not one's fault or for which others are equally responsible.

      • ‘We take the rap for whatever suffering takes place under sanctions, period.’
      • ‘History shows that it is nearly always the smaller party in a coalition that takes the rap in that situation.’
      • ‘And the agency willingly risks taking the rap in exchange for access to all that client money.’
      • ‘Most of them are happy to use the bureaucratic machinery to escape from taking the rap.’
      • ‘Vernon ends up taking the rap for the killings and is sentenced to death.’
      • ‘I would say that he is taking the rap for it anyway, short of being the scapegoat.’
      • ‘Pay them to take the rap and then say it was all their fault.’
      • ‘President Kennedy was told the Bay of Pigs would go smoothly and then he took the rap.’
      • ‘They were more concerned with working out the reasons why it hadn't been their fault and why someone else should take the rap.’
      • ‘He complained once again that he took the rap for others.’
      be punished, be blamed, take the blame, pay, suffer, suffer the consequences, pay the price
      View synonyms


Middle English (originally in the senses ‘severe blow with a weapon’ and ‘deliver a heavy blow’): probably imitative and of Scandinavian origin; compare with Swedish rappa ‘beat, drub’, also with clap and flap.




Main definitions of rap in US English:

: rap1rap2



  • in singular, with negative The smallest amount (used to add emphasis to a statement)

    ‘he doesn't care a rap whether it's true or not’
    whit, iota, jot, hoot, scrap, bit, fig
    View synonyms


Early 19th century: from Irish ropaire ‘robber’; used as the name of a counterfeit coin in 18th-century Ireland.