'rap' meaning nice chat but not blow

Annakrutitskaya

Senior Member
Russian
Dear Native Speakers,

Why does the verb 'rap' means "talk or chat in an easy and familiar manner" (ABBY Lingvo and is said that it is chiefly North American), if the original verb means 'to strike'? How did this verb get the meaning of 'nice chat' if original meaning is not truly positive?

We could be here all night rapping about spiritualism (ABBY Lingvo)
We had sort of been afraid they'd fight but instead they were rapping and grokking over the sound it made (ABBY Lingvo)

I would be grateful for your help!
Thank you.
 
  • cyberpedant

    Senior Member
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    It's usually impossible to say with any degree of authority how or why changes like this occur. "Rap music" is often aggressive—a series of blows against the psyches of the listeners, perhaps. The evolution into "talk or chat in an easy and familiar manner" is inexplicable—actually, I'm not sure which meaning came first.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    According to etymonline.com:
    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).
    "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.
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    A small word with a big list of meanings! In addition, it can mean an accusation of crime: "he beat the rap" = he was accused but not convicted. And according to Chapman's New Dictionary of American Slang, a "rap group" in the 1960s was not yet a crew of performers but a private discussion group.

    Anna, aside from the use of the word to mean a specific kind of music (which is closer to talk or recitation, or perhaps chanting, than to singing) all of these uses are slang.
     

    RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    A small word with a big list of meanings! In addition, it can mean an accusation of crime: "he beat the rap" = he was accused but not convicted. And according to Chapman's New Dictionary of American Slang, a "rap group" in the 1960s was not yet a crew of performers but a private discussion group.
    Whose discussions were called "rap sessions."
     
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