Green’s Dictionary of Slang

rap n.2

[Ger. penny engraved with an eagle that had been drawn so crudely that it was known as a Rabe, a raven. The coin was presumably introduced to Ireland by Ger. mercenaries]

1. a halfpenny; thus in US a cent.

[UK]Swift ‘Wood, an Insect’ in Miscellanies V (1736) 75: Unless, like the Dutch, you would rather boil This Coiner of *Raps in a Cauldron of Oil. (*A cant Word in Ireland for a Counterfeit Half-penny).
[UK]Foote Orators in Works (1799) I 217: I’ll wager you three thirteens to a rap.
[Ire]J. O’Keeffe Life’s Vagaries 24: He didn’t give me a Manx rap half-penny.
[UK]Sporting Mag. May XVI 99/2: Zounds! a million to a rap.
[UK]W.T. Moncrieff Bashful Man II iv: Haven’t a rap left of the last 500 dad sent.
[UK]S. Warren Diary of a Late Physician in Works (1854) III 119: ‘What! Is it all spent, George?’ [...] ‘Every rap.’.
[UK] ‘The Devil’ in Bentley’s Misc. Mar. 304: He then drew a purse from his poke, And showed them there was not a rap in it.
[UK]J. Lindridge Sixteen-String Jack 327: ‘If we are to do business, what is your price!’ ‘Two hundred, not a rap more.’.
[UK]R.S. Surtees Young Tom Hall (1926) 201: I don’t believe he has anything [...] — a reg’lar take-in — hasn’t a rap, I dare say.
[Aus]G.C. Mundy Our Antipodes III 87: ‘Sorrow a rap’ had he got of all his savings.
Living Age (N.Y.) 22 June 782/1: She hadn’t a rap you know; and knew how to spend money as well as any girl in London.
[UK]J. Greenwood Wilds of London (1881) 3: They’ve choused the flats of every rap they’ve got about ’em.
[UK]Ally Sloper’s Half Holiday 14 June 54/2: There were [...] twenty mobs (pickpockets) who never got a rap.
[US]‘Mark Twain’ Life on the Mississippi (1914) 391: Pat shall go to heaven in the twin to it, if it takes the last rap the O’Flaherties can raise; [...] stick on some extras, too, and I’ll give ye another dollar.
[Aus]Morn. Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld) 18 July 2/6: A half-penny [...] may find the following; ‘bawbees,’ ‘browns,’ ‘camden town,’ ‘coppers,’ ‘ flatch,’ ‘gray,’ ‘madge.’ ‘make,’ ‘mag or maga,’ ‘posh,’ and ‘rap’.
[UK]H. Nisbet Bushranger’s Sweetheart 134: ‘Got any tin?’ ‘Not a rap.’.
[Aus] ‘The Stringybark Cockatoo’ in ‘Banjo’ Paterson Old Bush Songs 45: He drove me off without a rap – the stringybark cockatoo.
[UK]Dundee Eve. Teleg. 19 July 2/4: [A] halfpenny is a ‘brown’ or a ‘madzer (pronounced ‘medzer’), ‘saltee’ [...] ‘mag,’ ‘posh,’ ‘bawbee,’ or ‘rap’.

2. (orig. Irish) a counterfeit halfpenny, circulated 1700–50.

[UK]Swift Drapier’s Letters in Works (1755) V II. 14: Copper halfpence or farthings [...] have been for some time very scarce, and many counterfeits passed about under the name of raps.
[UK]Swift ‘Wood An Insect’ in Chalmers Eng. Poets XI (1810) 445/2: Unless, like the Dutch, you would rather boil This coiner of raps in a cauldron of oil.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (3rd edn) n.p.: A rap is likewise an Irish halfpenny.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1796].
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[Ire]P.W. Joyce Eng. As We Speak It In Ireland (1979) 310: Rap; a bad halfpenny.

3. money in general.

[UK]Binstead & Wells Pink ’Un and Pelican 278: Fleet Street can possibly ‘give a bit of weight’ to most places as a ‘run for the utterly magless, rapless and pebble-beached’.

In derivatives

rapless (adj.)


[UK]A. Binstead Houndsditch Day by Day 136: There came a fateful day’s end at Hurst Park when [...] Simmons and his aged partner left off absolutely rapless.
[UK]A. Binstead Pitcher in Paradise 183: We was that rapless that it wouldn’t even run to a syndicated stave-off at Snow’s.

In phrases

not care a rap (for) (v.) (also not give a rap (for))

to not care at all.

[UK](con. 1737–9) W.H. Ainsworth Rookwood (1857) 187: For the mare-with-three-legs, boys, I care not a rap.
[UK]Sam Sly 23 Dec. 4/1: There lives near Gray's Inn Road a letter-carrying chap, / Who has a decent wife, for whom he does not care a rap.
[Ire]Southern Reporter (Cork) 21 June 4/4: On being charged with reckless driving [...] he remarked, with much bravado, that [...] he ‘didn’t care a rap’.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc.
[US]Potter Jrnl (Coudersport, PA) 25 Oct. 1/4: [set in London] Oh dash it [...] I shouldn’t care a rap about the things, only [...] the Governo’d cut up so deuced rough.
[UK]J.A. Hardwick ‘The Browns Ruralising’ in Prince of Wales’ Own Song Book 42: Brown ever after that mishap, / Stuck to his barrow like a chap / Who didn’t care a single rap / Who chaffed.
[US]Harry Hunter ‘Doctor Says I’m Not to be Worried’ [lyrics] I don’t care a rap you are caught in a trap.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 19 Sept. 18/3: Jones wants, and will have, his pleasures, and doesn’t care a rap how his wife gets on at home.
[UK]Western Dly Press 20 Aug. 3/7: O ain’t I a chap? Why, I don’t care a rap / For consistency, justice or sense.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘The Lost Souls’ Hotel’ in Roderick (1972) 155: As a rule, he never cared a rap for his old mother, nor for anyone else.
[US]J.E. Howard ‘I’m Looking For A Bully’ [lyrics] He’s done gone and shook me, I don’t give a rap.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 6 Jan. 11/1: Two furlongs moved the happy pair, / When Lydia sighed: ‘Dear boy, I care / For reputation not a rap! / Take that, but bring my little Snap.’.
[Aus]‘Miles Franklin’ My Brilliant Career 169: Some of the elderly and more sensible people said it was too hot, but all the young folks did not care a rap for the temperature.
[UK]Illus. Police News 12 Apr. 4/4: But she cares for his gills not a rap!
[US]H. Green Actors’ Boarding House (1906) 191: He didn’t care a rap about soubrettes.
[UK]Sporting Times 18 Feb. 2/4: He always gave the knocker quite a sturdy pair of raps, / But he never gave a rap for Daisy.
[US]N.-Y. American 8 Oct. in Fleming Unforgettable Season (1981) 320: Were we [...] incapable of caring a rap whether the pennant of 1908 fluttered over the Polo Grounds [etc.].
[US]J. London Valley of the Moon (1914) 23: I wouldn’t care a rap if my father’d been hanged.
[US]S. Lewis Our Mr Wrenn (1936) 49: Pay me the five Friday, or pay it to my foreman, I don’t care a rap which.
[US]‘A-No. 1’ Snare of the Road 85: I wouldn’t give a rap if you got here ahead of me, Jersey Dan!
[UK]J. Buchan Mr Standfast (1930) 475: If you talked to them about that divine countryside, you found they didn’t give a rap for it and had never been a mile beyond the village.
[UK]Marvel 1 Mar. 7: The Fighting Four did not care a rap.
[UK]Marvel 5 June 16: I don’t care a rap for your threats.
[US]S. Lewis Babbitt (1974) 209: I don’t care a rap for all this long-haired music.
[US]Dos Passos Manhattan Transfer 19: ‘Honest injun I’ve got a two-dollar raise.’ She tilted her chin first to oneside and then to the other. ‘I don’t give a rap.’.
[Ire]Irish Times 14 May n.p.: That very expressive phrase, ‘I don’t care a rap’, suggests a query as to its origin [BS].
[US]H. Miller Tropic of Capricorn (1964) 10: At bottom I didn’t give a rap.
[Aus] in Seal (1999) 64: We don’t give a rap for the buggering Jap.
[US]I. Bolton Christmas Tree in N.Y. Mosaic (1999) 320: She had realised [...] that he didn’t care a rap.
[US]‘Hal Ellson’ Golden Spike 230: He’d never given a rap about Carmen.
[Aus](con. 1940s–60s) Hogbotel & ffuckes ‘All the Nice Girls’ in Snatches and Lays 14: And you needn’t give a rap, / For you’ll never catch the clap / From a boy, from a boy.
not worth a rap

worthless, useless.

[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict. 27: Rap – I’m not worth a rap, I’ve got no money.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open [as cit. 1835].
[US] ‘The Waterford Boys’ in My Young Wife and I Songster 54: They ruin my trade, and I’m not worth a rap.
[UK]W.S. Gilbert ‘The Precocious Baby’ Fifty ‘Bab’ Ballads 63: My friends, it’s a tap / Dat is not worf a rap.
[UK]H. Nisbet ‘Bail Up!’ 51: A Chinaman ain’t worth a rap in a fight.
[UK] ‘’Arry on a ’ouseboat’ in Punch 15 Aug. 76: There’s Dannel the Dosser [...] Fair stone-broker, not wuth ’arf a rap.
[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era 184/1: Not worth a rap (Irish, Hist.). Worth nothing. In the early years of the 18th century [...] copper money was so rare in Ireland that a quantity of base metal was in circulation in the shape of small coins. They came to be called raps [...] hence the word came to be applied to describe valuelessness.