Beat the rap

to strike, especially with a quick, smart, or light blow:
He rapped the door with his cane.
to utter sharply or vigorously:
to rap out a command.
(of a spirit summoned by a medium) to communicate (a message) by raps (often followed by out).
Slang. to criticize sharply:
Critics could hardly wait to rap the play.
Slang. to arrest, detain, or sentence for a crime.
Metallurgy. to jar (a pattern) loose from a sand mold.
to knock smartly or lightly, especially so as to make a noise:
to rap on a door.
Slang. to talk or discuss, especially freely, openly, or volubly; chat.
Slang. to talk rhythmically to the beat of rap music.
a quick, smart, or light blow:
a rap on the knuckles with a ruler.
the sound produced by such a blow:
They heard a loud rap at the door.
Slang. blame or punishment, especially for a crime.
Slang. a criminal charge:
a murder rap.
Slang. response, reception, or judgment:
The product has been getting a very bad rap.

a talk, conversation, or discussion; chat.
talk designed to impress, convince, etc.; spiel:
a high-pressure sales rap.

rap music.
beat the rap, Slang. to succeed in evading the penalty for a crime; be acquitted:
The defendant calmly insisted that he would beat the rap.
take the rap, Slang. to take the blame and punishment for a crime committed by another:
He took the rap for the burglary.
verb raps, rapping, rapped
to strike (a fist, stick, etc) against (something) with a sharp quick blow; knock: he rapped at the door
(intransitive) to make a sharp loud sound, esp by knocking
(transitive) to rebuke or criticize sharply
(transitive) foll by out. to put (forth) in sharp rapid speech; utter in an abrupt fashion: to rap out orders
(intransitive) (slang) to talk, esp volubly
(intransitive) to perform a rhythmic monologue with a musical backing
rap over the knuckles, to reprimand
a sharp quick blow or the sound produced by such a blow
a sharp rebuke or criticism
(slang) voluble talk; chatter: stop your rap

a fast, rhythmic monologue over a prerecorded instrumental track
(as modifier): rap music

(slang) a legal charge or case
(US & Canadian, slang) beat the rap, to escape punishment or be acquitted of a crime
(slang) take the rap, to suffer the consequences of a mistake, misdeed, or crime, whether guilty or not
(used with a negative) the least amount (esp in the phrase not to care a rap)
verb, noun
(Austral, informal) a variant spelling of wrap (sense 8), wrap (sense 14)

c.1300, “a quick, light blow, stroke,” also “a fart” (late 15c.), native or borrowed from a Scandinavian source (cf. Danish rap, Swedish rapp “light blow”); either way probably of imitative origin (cf. slap, clap).

Slang meaning “rebuke, blame, responsibility” is from 1777; specific meaning “criminal indictment” (cf. rap sheet, 1960) is from 1903. To beat the rap is from 1927. Meaning “music with improvised words” first in New York City slang, 1979 (see rap (v.2)).

mid-14c., “strike, smite, knock,” from rap (n.). Related: Rapped; rapping. To rap (someone’s) knuckles “give light punishment” is from 1749. Related: Rapped; rapping.

“talk informally, chat,” 1929, popularized c.1965 in Black English, possibly first in Caribbean English and from British slang meaning “say, utter” (1879), originally “to utter a sudden oath” (1540s), ultimately from rap (n.). As a noun in this sense from 1898. Meaning “to perform rap music” is recorded by 1979. Related: Rapped; rapping.

A form of pop music characterized by spoken or chanted rhymed lyrics, with a syncopated, repetitive accompaniment. Rap music originated in the second half of the twentieth century in black urban communities. (See also hip-hop.)

verb phrase

To go unpunished; be acquitted: Every time they arrest him he beats the rap (1920s+ Underworld)


A rebuke; blame; responsibility; knock: Who’ll take the rap for this? (1777+)
Arrest, indictment, or arraignment for a crime: Gangs with influence can beat about 90 percent of their ”raps” (1903+)
An official complaint or reprimand: Honest cops will often take a ”rap” or complaint rather than testify against a fellow cop (1928+)

Related Terms

beat the rap, take the rap


Informal talk; candid conversation and communion (1929+)
rap song (1970s+ Black)


To converse; chat and exchange views, esp in a very candid way: drugs, youth cult, ecstasy questing, rapping (1929+)
To chant a rap song (1970s+ Black)

[origin unknown; perhaps related to repartee, perhaps to rapport, perhaps to rapid]
recurrent abdominal pain
Escape punishment; win acquittal. For example, The youngsters were caught shoplifting, but somehow they were able to beat the rap. The rap in this idiom means “the legal charge against one.” [ ; 1920s ]
In addition to the idiom beginning with


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