Green’s Dictionary of Slang

rap v.1

1. in intransitive senses pertaining to speech.

(a) to curse.

[UK]Greene Second Part of Conny-Catching in Grosart (1881–3) X 99: He began to chafe, and to sweare, and to rap out goggs Nownes.
[UK]Munday & Drayton Sir John Oldcastle I ii: O, but you must not swear; it ill becomes One of your coat to rap out bloody oaths.
[UK]J. Howell Familiar Letters (1737) I 1 Aug. 207: It is a humour of Swearing in all your discourses; and they are not slight, but deep, far-fetch’d Oaths that you are wont to rap out.
[UK]W. Kenrick Falstaff’s Wedding (1766) II i: Swearing indeed he knew: for, tho’ but a king’s son, he would, as thou say’st, rap out an oath like an emperor.
[UK]Foote Lame Lover in Coll. Farces & Entertainment VI (1788) 17: You know how angry your mother is at their rapping, and littering the house.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Rap [...] to curse.
[UK]W. Scott Heart of Mid-Lothian (1883) 219: It’s d---d hard, when three words of your mouth would not give the girl the chance to nick Moll Blood, that you make such scruple about rapping to them.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Thackeray Fatal Boots in Works III (1898) 570: I rapped out a good number of oaths.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open 121: Rap out, to swear, to blow up, be in a passion.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. (2nd edn) 198: He rapped out a volley of oaths.
[UK]Binstead & Wells Pink ’Un and Pelican 72: Now the strong point about George William Brudenell Bruce always was his command of ‘language’ [...] and ‘Ducks’ could ‘rap it out’ in a way that would have made a Billingsgate porter turn green with envy.
[UK]Wodehouse Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit 129: She turned bright mauve, and I think was about to rap out something in the nature of a Quorn-and-Pytchley expletive.

(b) to swear a false oath, to perjure oneself; thus as n. a false oath.

[UK]Select Trials ‘Thomas Beck for Robberies’ Apr. 356: Prisoner. this Evidence is a very scandalous Fellow, my lord. He’ll rap anything for the sake of the cole.
[UK]Fielding Amelia (1926) I 56: Though I never saw the lady in my life, she need not be shy of us: d--n me! I scorn to rap* against any lady. [* A cant word meaning to swear, or rather perjure yourself].
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]H.T. Potter New Dict. Cant (1795).
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Life and Trial of James Mackcoull 299: She believed he had ne’er a loge; and was sure, unless he rapp’d, he could not post it that the tatler nim’d was his’ne.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.

(c) (UK Und.) to stand accused, to appear guilty.

[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 33/1: They can’t find anything on him, and all he can ‘rap’ to is that he had a coat over his arm just like the Scotch boy’s.

(d) to inform, esp. to the police.

[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 34/1: Any one or all of the hotel keepers and landlords of the ‘lush drums’ [...] might ‘come it’ on us, and if we were ‘pinched’ they were sure to ‘rap’ on both of us.
[US]Sun (NY) 27 July 40/2: Does he rap to the police?
[US]A.J. Barr Let Tomorrow Come 141: I’ll rap you to the warden for any more of your gab.
[US]Rigney & Smith Real Bohemia 167: I couldn’t rap, trying to gain time for a story. [Ibid.] 175: The police get little cooperation; ‘squealing,’ now called ‘rapping’ or ‘finking,’ is taboo.

(e) to talk, to converse.

[UK]Macmillan’s Mag. (London) ‘Autobiog. of a Thief’ XL 501: A reeler came up to me and rapped (said) ‘Now — , you had better go away, or I shall give you a drag (three months in prison’.
[UK]‘Dagonet’ ‘A Plank Bed Ballad ’ in Referee 12 Feb. n.p.: I saw as a reeler was roasting me brown, / And he rapped, ‘I shall just turn you over.’.
[US]Ade Girl Proposition 131: A lot of Gilbert’s Friends went around to see her and they began to Rap.
[US]F.H. Tillotson How I Became a Detective 88: ‘Rap’ means to speak.
[US]R.J. Tasker Grimhaven 226: ‘Don’t rap to me any more!’ I ordered.
[US]D. Runyon ‘Gentlemen, the King!’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 171: I do not rap to these old friends of mine from Philly at once.
[US]D. Maurer Big Con 168: Don’t rap to me.
[US]M.H. Boulware Jive and Sl. n.p.: Got to rap at four ... Have a date.
[US]J. Blake Ex Post Facto in Joint (1972) 47: Let’s walk and rap.
[US]C. Cooper Jr Farm (1968) 241: He came in to rap and fart around in general.
[US]D. Jenkins Semi-Tough 20: She said she wanted to ‘rap with me’ about the ‘underside’ of the athlete’s mind.
[US](con. 1964–73) W. Terry Bloods (1985) 29: We’d just sit down and just rap. Rap about music, the girls, what was happening in the world.
[US]R. Shell Iced 47: Smoke reefer, rap to whoever you wanted to, or whoever would listen.
[US]ONDCP Street Terms 17: Rap — Criminally charged; to talk with someone.
[US]J. Díaz This Is How You Lose Her 16: Some Mediterranean Messenger of Love starts rapping to her.

(f) to have any form of impromptu dialogue.

[US]R. Price Ladies’ Man (1985) 24: I like to rap to my audience, you know, set up a rapport.
[UK]Indep. Information 14–20 Aug. 12: Kesey doing spoken word and rapping with Ken Babbs.

(g) (US black) to speak lines in the dozens n. (1)

[US]H. Rap Brown Die Nigger Die! 28–29: Signifying is more humane [than the Dozens]. Instead of coming down on somebody’s mother, you come down on them. But, before you can signify you got to be able to rap.

2. in transitive senses pertaining to speech.

(a) to swear (evidence) against someone; or for someone.

[UK]J. Dalton Narrative of Street-Robberies 11: The Whores are our Safeguard; for when we fling for a Cly, if we are taken on Suspicion, they’ll rap for us.
[UK]H.T. Potter New Dict. Cant (1795) n.p.: rap to swear, to give evidence.
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant.
[UK]W. Scott Heart of Mid-Lothian (1883) 220: I hope you’ll think better on it, and rap an oath for her – deil a hair ill there is in it, if ye are rapping again the crown.
[UK]Flash Dict.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict. 27: Rap – give evidence, take false oath.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open [as cit. 1835].
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 135/2: It’s best tu moove neowt till thau’s reddy tu ‘namase,’ then thau saves a chance gin thau gits ‘copped,’ fur theiy kant ‘rap’ that eowt ar touched.
[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 10 Oct. 1/1: I’ve been trying to unedarth a self-admitted cronk ’un, but they will all persist in cracking dead squares, and are willing to rap to it as well.
[US]A.H. Lewis Confessions of a Detective 17: Not one would rap. It isn’t honor; it’s fear.
[US]F.H. Tillotson How I Became a Detective 94: Rap to him – Testify against him.

(b) to attack verbally, to criticize, to say sharply.

[UK]Macmillan’s Mag. (London) ‘Autobiog. of a Thief’ XL 501: I said, ‘All right,’ but he rapped, ‘It is not all right.’ .
[US]Ade Fables in Sl. (1902) 63: A certain Preacher became wise to the fact that he was not making a Hit with his Congregation [...] He suspected they were Rapping him on the Quiet.
[US]N.Y. Eve. Post 23 Nov. 5: Football was sharply rapped and rowing was highly praised [DA].
[US]Wash. Herald (DC) 10 Sept. 10/5: [headline] Senator thomas Raps Police Union Stand.
[US]Ade Hand-made Fables 73: Did the Poker Players and their Friends circulate quietly and do any Rapping? Possibly they influenced only about 10 per cent of the Electors.
[US]J. Dixon Free To Love 146: I won’t have you or anybody else rapping Neil.
[US]N. Algren Man with the Golden Arm 277: The Republican precinct captains are handin’ out handbills rappin’ the super.
[US]M. Shulman Rally Round the Flag, Boys! (1959) 15: ‘Mine are fine parents too [...].’ ‘So what are you rapping ’em for?’.
[US]L. Bruce Essential Lenny Bruce 105: They can rap ya [...] but I’m on your side.
[US]J. Simon Sign of Fool 64: Frank was rapping shit behind my back.
[UK]Guardian G2 28 June 4: He can be funny and persuasive rapping against the old Club 30–50.

(c) (US Und.) to recognize.

[US]Sun (NY) 13 May 14/6: I can rap to a man in a minute if he’s a stranger in this city, just be his talk.
S.F. Chron. 6 June 11/5: An unharnessed flatty steps up and raps to me.
[US]Wash. Times (DC) 14 Sept. 10/4: Rap to him — Testify against him; Identify.
D. Runyon ‘Blacklisted’ in Wash. Post 21 Mar. 8/3: Rapped to the way that I stood to the pan? Rapped to the way that I wung?
[US]G. Henderson Keys to Crookdom 415: Rap to – to recognize, as ‘I rapped him’.
[US]M.C. Sharpe Chicago May (1929) 261: Rap—to put wise.

(d) (US) to charge; to prosecute, to arrest with a view to prosecution.

[US]Number 1500 Life In Sing Sing 252: Rap. to prosecute.
Jackson Dly News (MS) 1 Apr. 7/1: Crook Chatter [...] ‘I just been tipped that you want to rap me for a South Side job’.
[US]J. Lait Gangster Girl 180: No punk copper or rube sheriff looking for a quick rep was going to put over on him an unexpected frisk and rap him on the concealed weapon joke.
[US]‘Ed Lacy’ Room to Swing 30: Rap him, send him up.
[Can](con. 1920s) O.D. Brooks Legs 162: The judge rapped him with a twenty-five-dollar fine or thirty days.
[US]ONDCP Street Terms 17: Rap — Criminally charged; to talk with someone.

(e) (US) to persuade, to trick out of.

[US]N. Davis ‘Don’t Give Your Right Name’ in Goulart (1967) 24: Some sharpshooter is always rapping suckers for their nickels.
[US]O. Hawkins Chili 70: I rapped my way into an invitation.

(f) (Aus., also rap up) to praise, esp. to praise to excess.

[Aus]D. Niland Call Me When the Cross Turns Over (1958) 138: ‘You dream and feel hopeless, I don’t.’ ‘Rapping yourself up a bit, aren’t you?’ [Ibid.] 174: They couldn’t rap him up enough then. Everywhere they went they spread the story.
[Aus]Tupper & Wortley Aus. Prison Sl. Gloss. [Internet] Rap. 3. To praise. As in ‘giving it a rap’.
[Aus]Sun-Herald (Sydney) 8 Mar. 84: After leaving the room, Cassidy was still rapping Quinton. ‘You would have thought he was 22 years old the way he pushed his way through the gap.’ [GAW4].

(g) to indulge in repartee, street-talk, to have a rapport with.

[US]R.R. Lingeman Drugs from A to Z (1970) 219: rap [...] (1) to talk, especially to talk the jargon of the addict’s life. (2) to gossip, converse.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Airtight Willie and Me 14: His face was booby-trapped with pearly con as he rapped his opener.
[US](con. 1982–6) T. Williams Cocaine Kids (1990) 90: All the Kids would rap, charm (talk to), or game to impress girlfriends; hang it up (insult) or fresh (compliment) male friends by using special words.

(h) (US black) to talk with the aim of seduction.

[US]H.E. Roberts Third Ear n.p.: rap v. […] 3. to talk to a girl with romance in mind.
[US]J. Sayles Union Dues (1978) 185: Most the men in the world, they see you walkin down the street, they rap with you, they get you down in bed even, they thinkin bout just one thing.

3. (orig. Aus.) to knock out, to kill.

[Aus]‘Rolf Boldrewood’ Robbery Under Arms (1922) 168: If he tries to draw a weapon, or move ever so little, he’s rapped at that second.
[US]H.C. Witwer Classics in Sl. 82: His broad was out in front to see him get rapped for a row of stewpans, too.
[US]H. Selby Jr Last Exit to Brooklyn (1966) 73: If he dont pass out I’ll just rapim with somethin.

In phrases

bad rap (v.)

(orig. US) to malign, to criticize unfairly.

[US]‘Lord Buckley’ Hiparama of the Classics 29: They bad rapped the poo’ Car [i.e. the Marquis de Sade] every step of the way.
[US]L. Yablonsky Hippie Trip 190: I’d rant and rave [...] and shout and bad-rap people.
[US]H. Selby Jr Requiem for a Dream (1987) 245: Ah aint bad rappin ya.
[US](con. 1960) Pepper & Pepper Straight Life 226: If someone bad-rapped you to a friend of yours, he’d say, ‘Hey, man don’t talk about him like that’.
[US](con. 1998–2000) J. Lerner You Got Nothing Coming 118: This is the first time [...] I have heard one C.O. ‘bad-rap’ another to an inmate.
rap to (v.) (US)

1. to own up to; to declare.

[US]N.Y. Times 7 Mar. 10/5: A store has been robbed of goods worth $10,000, and the detectives manage in some way to discover $100, which is ‘rapped to,’ that is, identified by the owner beyond all question.

2. to recognize; to work out; to discover.

[US]D. Runyon ‘The Informal Execution of Soupbone Pew’ in From First to Last (1954) 76: I took one flash at his map, and I knew him. It was Pew. [...] The Shine rapped to him as quick as I did.
[US]D. Hammett ‘The Gatewood Caper’ Story Omnibus (1966) 148: ‘How’d you rap to it?’ Quayle asked me, politely.
rap up (v.)

see sense 2f above.