(1) 'blow'; (2) 'fall, ruin'; (3) 'treachery'

(Modern English (1) rap; (3) ?rape)


In Cl 233 it is said of God's casting the Devil into hell that 'the rape were rank', and although the broad sense is evident in context, the actual identification of the n. rape has been contested: (1) Most editors (Morris, Menner, GollCl, AW etc.) have glossed 'blow', identifying it with OED3's rap (n.2) an imitative or expressive formation. OED3, GollCl and MED all cite Scandinavian comparanda (incl. Norw rapp, Dan rap, Sw rapp, rappa (v.)), but do not draw any explicit formal connections as some of the Scandinavian authorities do (see e.g. Falk-Torp, Hellquist). (2) Anderson (followed by Olsen) argues that rape here should instead be connected with OED's rape (n.), MED's rāpe (n.1) 'haste, hurry', formed on the ON-derived v. (see rapes (v.)). Anderson notes that the OIcel. v. is used in precisely the same context, and compares the (Icel) neut. n. hrap (from the v., see Mag.) with the sense 'falling down, ruin', which makes excellent sense in context in Cl. (3) Vant glosses 'treachery' and derives from AF rape, though there is no similar extended usage cited by MED or by OED3 before MnE.

PGmc Ancestor

(2) *xrapōjan-

Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

(2) hrapa ‘to fall, tumble down; rush headlong, hurry’ 
(ONP (2) hrapa (vb.))

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

(1) Norw rapp, Dan rap, Sw rapp; (2) Far rapa, Icel hrapa, Norw rapa, OSw rapa; cp. Icel hrap, Norw rap

OE Cognate

Phonological and morphological markers

Summary category



(1) First cited by MED and OED3 from c1330 Roland & V. (Auch); most early citations are from the N/EM and E. (2) Attested in the sense 'haste, hurry' (probably reinforced by proverbial usage) in a variety of texts from the 13c. onwards, incl. Gower and Lydgate. (3) Attested from the late 13c. in ME, incl. Chaucer and Lydgate, but never with the sense that Vant glosses.

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Cl 233

The glossing of this word in Cl 233 depends on the preferred etymology: see etymological discussion.


(1) MED rappe (n.) , OED3 rap (n.2) , HTOED , Bj. 251-2, Nielsen rap (2), Falk-Torp Rap (1), Torp Rapp (2), Hellquist rapp (3); (2) MED rāpe (n.1) , OED3 rape (n.2) , Bj. 251, de Vries hrapa, Mag. hrapa, Orel *xrapōjanan; (3) ?MED rāpe (n.2) , OED3 rape (n.3) , DEAF rat (2), AND rape (2)