Definition of rasp in English:



  • 1A harsh, grating noise.

    ‘the rasp of the engine’
    • ‘Wilkes' trademark vocal sound is a dry megaphone rasp, and he alternates it with savage harmonica outbursts.’
    • ‘The second voice was harsh, almost a rasp like someone with a sore throat.’
    • ‘Ivan did hear the softest rasp of metal against metal before turning around.’
    • ‘The old man's breathing was becoming more irregular, reduced only to hoarse rasps.’
    • ‘I clutched the pentagram necklace at my neck, tears spilling down my cheeks and breath starting to come in uneven rasps again.’
    • ‘I whispered, my voice coming out as a harsh rasp.’
    • ‘Rae's breathing was terribly labored, as it was coming out in shaky rasps.’
    • ‘They both froze, listening to the quick rasps of each other's breaths over the thunderous pounding of their own hearts.’
    • ‘Kylie drops her trademark helium trill to adopt a gravelly rasp.’
    • ‘The morning air filled with the stenorous rasps of half decayed lungs.’
    • ‘Then the spectre began to laugh, the noise a deep, ominous rasp which snuffed out the spark of hope that had briefly lit Robert's soul.’
    • ‘Rose noticed from behind the bushes that the male's breathing came out in laboring rasps for air.’
    • ‘Even in the noise of the club, Søren could hear the tell-tale rasp in her voice from too many cigarettes.’
    • ‘She almost panicked when she heard the rasp of steel being drawn.’
    • ‘My chest was heaving painfully, and my breath was coming in shallow rasps.’
    • ‘My breath was again coming in shallow rasps, and I could feel my pulse rate slowing.’
    • ‘The accompaniment is a Cage-like sound track picking up the whistle of distant trains, the yelp of coyotes and dogs, the neighing of horses, the buzz and rasp of flying insects.’
    • ‘His breathing was heavy and came in shallow rasps.’
    • ‘Steve heard the rasp of oar-locks and the faint plash of a leisurely moving boat.’
    • ‘She waits for another useless barrage of platitudes and axioms, but all she catches is the harsh rasp of his breathing.’
    grinding, grating, scraping, scrape, scratching, scratch
    View synonyms
  • 2A coarse file or similar metal tool with a roughened surface for scraping, filing, or rubbing down objects of metal, wood, or other hard material.

    • ‘In it are a simple Japanese keyhole saw and a host of carpenter's rasps that resemble cheese graters and that peel at the wood with a steady ‘chht, chht’.’
    • ‘I've now got wrenches, spanners, rasps and paint brushes.’
    • ‘As it turns out, this stone, though still easy to carve with rasps, is harder than Texas soapstone and so I used a Dremel to hollow out the space between the fall of the wings and the figure's body.’
    • ‘The final, almost slippery smooth form, was achieved with an amazing amount of hard work with planes, rasps and sandpaper - Russia still has an economy in which fine hand labour can be afforded on a large scale.’
    • ‘Teams still bring propane torches, rasps, sandpaper and saws on the road, just in case.’
    • ‘Then, with an ample supply of worn-out rasps on hand, he used the technique to make knife blades that held an edge longer.’
    • ‘There was a last for men's shoes and one for ladies ’, with various leather knives, rasps, tins of small brass nails and bobbins of waxed sewing thread.’
    • ‘Cajuns improvised and improved the instruments first by bending rake tines, replacing rasps and notched gourds used in Afro-Caribbean music with washboards, and eventually producing their own masterful accordions.’
    • ‘The tools used for more refined work include gouges, drills, various types of chisel, a mallet, rasps, files, and rifflers, some of which duplicate the tools used in stonecarving and modelling.’
    • ‘The harsh hiss of the rasp in her hand provided Alex a safe distraction from the world outside.’
    • ‘There was the sound of a rasp, then paper shuffling.’
    • ‘I spent a lot of time in the Cooper stock shop and watched awestruck as a talented stockmaker with nothing but a pencil outlined a classic's cheekpiece and then made it happen with a couple of wood rasps.’
    • ‘You can add a paint mixer, right-angle drive, wire brushes, wood countersinks, and even saws, lathes, and rotary rasps and files.’


  • 1[no object] Make a harsh, grating noise.

    ‘my breath rasped in my throat’
    • ‘His breath rasps in his lungs and iron chains that weights him down binds his arms.’
    • ‘Her breath rasped in her throat, and blinking felt like a supreme effort.’
    • ‘The flight station was instantly filled with a deafening, rasping, angry noise, as if a chainsaw had been started at full throttle.’
    • ‘My breath rasped and sweat beaded on the nape of my neck.’
    • ‘As Arun knelt before him and unslung his bag, he could hear the fledgling panting: slow, rasping, shallow breaths.’
    • ‘He'd swallowed some of it, I could tell, from the way his voice rasped in his throat.’
    • ‘Her eyes were closed, mouth hanging open just slightly with her harsh breath rasping steadily.’
    • ‘My breath rasped in my throat and deeper, right in my lungs.’
    • ‘Sara ran as fast as she could, her breath rasping in her throat and blood pounding in her ears.’
    • ‘Breath rasped in his throat and drops of red flew from his side as he loped past the pews.’
    • ‘Whilst one guitar churns and rasps with melodic chime, the other layers in off kilter leads and rich sustained sounds.’
    • ‘Her ears twisted until they stuck out sideways, she took several rasping breaths.’
    • ‘My boots thumped against cobbles and breath rasped in my lungs as the guard tried one door, then another.’
    • ‘As I leant down, I could hear her lungs rasping for breath.’
    • ‘The breath rasped in her throat as she began the game of cat and mouse, charred robe held up past her knees so she could run.’
    • ‘‘I wasn't expecting it either’ I started to say, my throat aching and rasping, dry, awkward.’
    • ‘Lilly snickered, her breath rasping and grating as she tried to move her head closer to her mistress.’
    • ‘The high pitched voice rasps out the names of the students with machine gun velocity.’
    • ‘Her breath was rasping now, and he could hear the pain in her voice when she spoke.’
    • ‘The Hulk constantly growls: even when he's at rest, the breath rasps in his lungs, with barely-contained rage.’
    1. 1.1[with direct speech]Say in a harsh, grating voice.
      ‘“Stay where you are!” he rasped’
      • ‘‘Could've fooled me,’ he rasped in between breaths.’
      • ‘‘Come Defender and fight,’ it rasped in grating voice.’
      • ‘‘Help,’ I barely managed to rasp out of my dry throat.’
      • ‘These Begilans are ruthless and will stop at nothing to conquer the whole Universe,’ a Councilor's voice rasped out.’
      • ‘"I'm fine, " he rasped out, lying through his teeth.’
      • ‘Moniker rasped under his breath and yanked the reigns, kicking his steed into action.’
      • ‘When I picked it up, a smoky voice rasped at me, ‘Goddamnit, Crumley, where the hell are you?’’
      • ‘The woman rasped out in a harsh, rough voice.’
      • ‘The voice rasped softly ‘No, if you have what you wanted, just let me die.’’
      • ‘‘Take a good, long look at this face, Mr. Farrell ’, rasps Bubsy the Bobcat through the prison phone.’
      • ‘‘I can't stop loving you,’ he rasped in that wonderful voice, ‘I've made up my mind.’’
      • ‘He took another ragged breath, then rasped, ‘What was that?’’
      • ‘‘You're probably right,’ she rasped, her throat dry.’
      • ‘When we both finally came gasping for breath he rasped, ‘What does this mean?’’
      • ‘‘Stay away from me… ‘she rasped, her voice scorched and broken by fire.’’
      • ‘‘Only if you're ready,’ Conner said, his voice rasping but firm.’
      • ‘‘You,’ she rasped harshly between heaving breaths.’
      • ‘‘Center me on Sam Beckett,’ he rasped, in a voice he barely recognized.’
      • ‘I sagged back on the cold floor, my voice faltering as I rasped, ‘I not hurt you.’’
      • ‘‘Don't be anxious, Love,’ he rasped, his warm breath tingling her neck.’
      croak, say hoarsely, utter hoarsely, squawk, shrill, caw
      View synonyms
  • 2[with object] Scrape (something) with a rasp in order to make it smoother.

    • ‘Initially, wood is rasped evenly from the length of each limb on the bow.’
    • ‘Any flares present at this time are removed by rasping the lower part of the hoof wall from the outside.’
    • ‘The thrips will rasp the foliage, leaving whitish streaks.’
    scrape, file, rub, abrade, grate, sand, sandpaper, scratch, scour
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1(of a rough surface or object) scrape (something, especially someone's skin) in a painful or unpleasant way.
      • ‘Pale knuckles rasped against its worn surface, falling in gentle depressions in the wood made by countless other such actions.’
    2. 2.2Remove something by scraping it off.
      ‘more enamel is rasped off the upper outside edges of the teeth’
      • ‘Most chitons feed by rasping algae and other encrusted food off of the rocks on which they crawl.’
      • ‘The dog-whelk's radula drills into other animals such as barnacles, while the limpet's is used to rasp algae off rock surfaces.’
      • ‘You probably rasp the soles off their shoes just for fun before they know what's happening.’


Middle English (as a verb): from Old French rasper, perhaps of Germanic origin.