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Chris -- 2018-04-11

#1 2006-01-20 20:35:36

Fishbait
Member
From: Brookline, MA
Registered: 2005-12-13
Posts: 38
Website

"wrap" for "rap"

Found this on a website for lawyers who are solo practitioners:

“Though our profession gets a bad wrap, I’ve found that there are many decent lawyers out there willing to help new solos earn some money and get started.”

This is plainly different from the eggcorn “wrapped” for “rapt” already in the database. I can’t quite figure out the mental process that gave rise to it. It made me realize, though, that “get a bad rap” is not as transparent as I supposed. Is this the same “rap” we find in a “rap on the knuckles”? Is it a variant of “rep” for “reputation”?

Your thoughts are always welcome.

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#2 2006-02-09 23:48:17

camcgee
Member
Registered: 2006-02-09
Posts: 2

Re: "wrap" for "rap"

I believe that “bad rap” is a reference to a “rap sheet”—slang for a police record.

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#3 2006-02-15 01:02:05

Fishbait
Member
From: Brookline, MA
Registered: 2005-12-13
Posts: 38
Website

Re: "wrap" for "rap"

I’m sure you’re right. But where does “rap sheet” come from?

David Fried

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#4 2006-02-15 05:14:15

patschwieterman
Administrator
From: California
Registered: 2005-10-25
Posts: 1665

Re: "wrap" for "rap"

The OED doesn’t have a separate listing for “bad rap,” but it claims that “bum rap”—a fixed phrase with a related meaning—and “rap sheet” are both ultimately figurative developments of the literal sense of “rap” as “a blow or stroke” or “a loud knock.”

The sense “a rebuke; an adverse criticism” is recorded as early as 1777; the OED provides this sentence as its earliest citation: “The post master general..has lately had a rap, which I hope will have a good effect.” (Though technically the 1777 citation appears to be quoted in a 19th C source.) By 1903, the word “rap” is being used to denote “a criminal accusation, charge.” The phrase “bum rap” – meaning a false criminal charge – is first recorded in 1927; the OED provides a first citation for “rap” as “a prison sentence” in that same year. The OED’s earliest citation for “rap sheet” is from 1960.

I think it’s pretty clear that our modern usage of “bad rap” is an outgrowth of the sense of “rap” as “an adverse criticism.” This early use of the word doesn’t need an adjective to communicate negativity, but it’s easy to see how it would attract a negative modifier like “bad” —just as the OED definition puts “adverse” before “criticism,” even though I would have understood what was meant without the adjective. Using the ProQuest database, I found a citation of the phrase “bad rap” from the New York Times for Jan 21, 1946 (page 29); someone is quoted as saying that Joe Lapchick, the coach of the Saint John’s University basketball team, is being unfairly criticized: “It’s a bad rap for Lapchick.” This use of “bad rap” is basically just a version of the “adverse criticism” sense, but like “bum rap” it implies that the “rap” is being applied to someone unfairly. Perhaps “bum rap” is exerting a bit of influence here. Our contemporary use of “bad rap” represents a further refinement of the 1949 sense: it means something like “a bad reputation based on false assumptions or misunderstandings.” I think Fishbait is right: the word “rep” – a short-hand form of “reputation” that has been around for centuries – had some influence on the phrase “bad rap” in the intervening 60 years.

“Rap sheet” grows out of the sense of “rap” as “a criminal accusation, charge.” The 1960 date provided by the OED is too late. Amazon.com lists a 1954 autobiography called “Rap Sheet” by the gangster James H. Audett, and the earliest citation I found (using books.google.com) came from a 1949 government document called “Code of Federal Regulations: Containing a Codification of Documents of General Applicability….” The word “rap sheet” occurs on pp. 173, 286 and 577, and I was able to recover this fragment of a sentence from the report: ”[...] records other than the traditional “rap sheet” such as arrest reports [...]”. The use of the word “traditional” here is interesting because it might indicate that the writer believes the word has been around a long time. But it might just mean that the idea of the rap sheet – under whatever name – has been around for a while. Someone with a subscription to NewspaperArchives.com could probably find earlier citations, but the evidence I’ve found so far suggests that “bad rap” and “rap sheet” are both first appearing at about the same time.

The modern sense of “bad rap” probably isn’t derived from “rap sheet.” Both terms are younger siblings in this particular lexical family.

Pat Schwieterman

Last edited by patschwieterman (2006-02-15 17:07:57)

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#5 2006-02-20 10:51:39

streapadair
Member
Registered: 2006-02-20
Posts: 4

Re: "wrap" for "rap"

This wrap/rap confusion might have been encouraged by the punning song title, “Christmas rapping” by the Waitresses…

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#6 2011-04-09 08:43:25

burred
Eggcornista
From: Montreal
Registered: 2008-03-17
Posts: 1104

Re: "wrap" for "rap"

Today on an ecology listserv:

science and scientists who reach out are likely to get their knuckles wrapped

Maybe they’re thinking “bandaged”?

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#7 2019-03-04 11:48:01

Dixon Wragg
Eggcornista
From: Cotati, California
Registered: 2008-07-04
Posts: 1364

Re: "wrap" for "rap"

Fishbait wrote:

“Though our profession gets a bad wrap, I’ve found that there are many decent lawyers out there willing to help new solos earn some money and get started.”
...I can’t quite figure out the mental process that gave rise to it.

Thirty years ago, a friend who’d been in prison said to me “They tried to put a snitch jacket on me.”, meaning that other prisoners had accused him of tattling. I easily got the image: a jacket or similar wrap that has a label describing the contents, like most products have. A bad rap in this sense is also a bad wrap.

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