Don’t mortify yourself by saying “fo’ shizzle” to someone from Chicago or by expecting Hi-Tek slang to be recognized outside of the Cincinnati metropolitan area. (No offense, Nati residents.) Rap slang can be as hyper-regional as sports alliances. With the help of M.I.M.’s lyrical breakdown about how each part of the US raps, we created an atlas of five notable words from each region.
East Coast rap
East Coast rap is most famous for its NYC origins—rap as we know it was born in the South Bronx and developed from Queens to Virginia Beach. We could write an article on Wu-Tang’s Staten Island-based lyrical innovations alone; choosing just five words from the East Coast, the birthplace of hip hop, is as challenging as a rose growing through concrete.
or Cash Rules Everything Around Me originated in NYC, specifically Staten Island.
In a lyric: “Cash rules everything around me, C.R.E.A.M. Get the money, dollar dollar bill, y’all.”
–Wu Tang Clan, “C.R.E.A.M.”
Everyday use: Should I spend Tuesday night hanging out with my grandma, or picking up extra dog walking shifts? Hmm, C.R.E.A.M.—I’ll choose the paid labor.”
means fly or cool and originated in NYC, specifically Harlem.
In a lyric: “Let’s get the dough and stay real jiggy.”
–Jay-Z, “Hard Knock Life”
Everyday use: Xavier thought his puffy vest was pretty jiggy, but I think it’s very 2002. In a bad way.
means from or exemplifying, and it originated in NYC, specifically Brooklyn.
In a lyric: “What ya throwin on? Biggie Smalls, who you represent?”
–Notorious BIG, “Jeans and Sneakers”
Everyday use: The comedian got the audience hyped by shouting “Brooklyn! Represent, represent!” as soon as she got on stage.
are all-purpose nouns originating in Philadelphia.
In a lyric: “I’m golden brown, and you know she’s the joint.”
–Funky 4 + 1, “That’s the Joint”
Everyday use: Let’s go down to that jawn on 4th St. and grab a hoagie.
means crazy and originated in NYC (specifically from the city code used when a perp suffers from a mental disorder).
In a lyric: “They say I’m 730, say I spaz out.”
–Foxy Brown, “730”
Everyday use: Julia went 730 when she scuffed her new white sneakers.
West Coast rap
Rap may have started in New York, but California taught it how to chill out and slow down. And, there is no definitive answer to whether LA’s rap terminology is more innovative than the Bay Area’s—Snoop Dogg and E-40 have been there, and the debate ain’t pretty.
means gangster or tough, and it originated in LA.
In a lyric: “Gangsta, gangsta! That’s what they’re yellin.’ It’s not about a salary, it’s all about reality.”
–NWA, “Gangsta Gangsta”
Everyday use: Bobby can pose as pretty gangsta sometimes, but he’s about as soft as they come.
Fo shizzle/fa shizzlemeans for sure and originated in LA.
In a lyric: “Fa shizzle my nizzle, the big Snoopy D-O-double-jizzle back up in the hizzle.”
–Snoop Dogg, “Suited N Booted”
Everyday use: Hey, want to see a 7:45 movie? Fo shizzle.
Beotchis an insulting or incredulous address, often aimed at a woman, and it originated in Oakland.
In a lyric: “I’ll call her a beotch … beotch!”
–Too $hort, “Call Her a B!tch”
Everyday use: Don’t call someone a beotch—especially a stranger.
Ghostridethe whipmeans to let a car drive itself, and it originated in Vallejo.
In a lyric: “Now let me direct traffic for a minute … ghostride the whip.”
–E-40, “Tell Me When to Go”
Everyday use: There was a sideshow last weekend, and there are still marks on the road from where people were turning donuts and ghostriding the whip.
means money and originated in Vallejo.
In a lyric: “Ten racks in a rubber band (gouda), Got three or fo’ mo’ in my other hand (gouda).”
Everyday use: Stefanie blew all her gouda on fixing her car, and then it broke again … immediately.
The South is often referred to as the “dirty South” or the “third coast” of rap. Yet, it—specifically, Houston, Memphis, Atlanta, and New Orleans—has some of the richest and most prolific online record-keeping of their regional terms. Considering that Southern hip hop is a relatively recent genre compared to the Coasts, their library of slang is pretty impressive.
means crazy or drunk, and it originated in Memphis and Atlanta.
In a lyric: “She getting crunk in the club I mean she work.”
–Ying Yang Twins, “Get Low”
Everyday use: Miquila was mortified when her parents came home crunk from the party.
means to show off and originated in Houston.
In a lyric: “What you know about acting bad, flossin’ prowlers? I got seven DVDs, I’m watchin’ Austin Powers.”
–Lil’ Flip, “Texas Boyz (Screwed)”
Everyday use: Chester got a new jacket, and he’s sending everyone selfies, flossin in it.
means a type of sizzurp (a Sprite-codine-candy mixture) or the effects of heavy inebriation. It originated in Houston.
In a lyric: “Just pour it in my drink and I’ma sip until I lean hard.”
–Lil Jon, “Me and My Drank”
Everyday use: Sometimes it’s hard to tell if someone is sleeping or just having some heavy lean effects.
means a house where drugs are sold and it originated in Atlanta.
In a lyric: “Bricks going in, bricks going out. Made a hundred thousand in my trap house.”
–Gucci Mane, “Trap House”
Everyday use: Ever since finishing The Wire, Adrian’s been acting like he knows everything about the drug trade, but I doubt he’s even seen a trap house in real life.
means crazy or off-the-hook. It’s often—but not always—used to refer to a woman. It originated in New Orleans and Baton Rouge.
In a lyric: “We all got some rachet in us (erbody, erbody got a lil ratchet).”
–Lil Boosie, “Do the Ratchet”
Everyday use: Ken was naturally offended when someone accused his neighborhood of being rachet.
The Midwest, which encompasses songs celebrating the toughest aspects of gang life and the softer backpack rap of the Twin Cities, is quite diverse. That’s because we’re including everything that’s not the South, Eastern Seaboard, and Cali in the Midwestern school of hip hop—which admittedly tends to be Chicago-dominated. Here are some Midwestern highlights (and, in the case of ICP, lowlights).
means to trick or steal or to grind. It originated in Chicago.
In a lyric: “Back it up like, juke juke, 3, 4, juke juke.”
–Chance the Rapper, “Juke Juke”
Everyday use: I can’t believe you paid $100 for those cheap knockoff Ray-Bans. You’ve been juked, Danielle.
means that ho over there and originated in Chicago.
In a lyric: “Okay, you got me—I don’t love no thotties.”
–Chief Keef, “Love No Thotties”
Everyday use: Commenting “THOT” in Instagram is a low blow.
or dismeans so on and so forth and it originated in Chicago.
In a lyric: “They was talking ‘woo this woo wap da bam.’”
–Chance the Rapper, “Angels”
Everyday use: Pras’s verse in “Ghetto Superstar”—”letting bygones be bygones, and so on and so on”—is the 90s version of “woo dis.”
means an obsessive fan and originated in Detroit.
In a lyric: “Just to chat, truly yours, your biggest fan, this is Stan.”
Everyday use: Milica is a huge Kevin Durant stan. She has three different KD jerseys—from each of his teams.
means an avid Insane Clown Posse fan (male or female). These originated in Detroit.
In a lyric: “Yo, I’m a juggalo, so don’t forget me like you did with Menudo.”
–Insane Clown Posse, “Down with the Clown”
Everyday use: If you admit to being a juggalo, you have to be ready for people to make fun of you for it.
Look up a word, learn it forever.
To rap is to hit something, talk, or bust into rhymes like the Fat Boys in the rap song “Human Beat Box” (1984). That’s some old school Brooklyn rap, but you can rap to any beat you want. Hit it!
A rap is a knock or blow, like if you rap somebody upside the head as a gentle reminder to pay attention. The word rap also means, "reputation,” like if you get a bad rap at school for sleeping in class. It’s also "to talk at great length." And there’s the musical rap, the “genre that includes talking rhythmically over a beat.” This meaning comes from African American slang for, basically, "talking.”
Definitions of rap
“rap him on the knuckles”
verbmake light, repeated taps on a surface
- synonyms:knock, pink, tap
nounthe act of hitting vigorously
- synonyms:belt, knock, whack, whang
- synonyms:strike, tap
nounthe sound made by a gentle blow
- synonyms:pat, tap
nouna reproach for some lapse or misdeed
“it was a bum rap”
noungenre of African-American music of the 1980s and 1990s in which rhyming lyrics are chanted to a musical accompaniment; several forms of rap have emerged
- synonyms:hip-hop, rap music
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This shows grade level based on the word's complexity.
This shows grade level based on the word's complexity.
verb (used with object),rapped,rap·ping.
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.
verb (used without object),rapped,rap·ping.
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.
ARE YOU A TRUE BLUE CHAMPION OF THESE "BLUE" SYNONYMS?
We could talk until we're blue in the face about this quiz on words for the color "blue," but we think you should take the quiz and find out if you're a whiz at these colorful terms.
Question 1 of 8
Which of the following words describes “sky blue”?
Idioms about rap
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.
Origin of rap1
First recorded in 1300–50; 1960–65 for def. 8; Middle English verb rappen; akin to Swedish rappa “to beat, drub,” German rappeln “to rattle”; the senses “to talk” and “conversation, talk” are perhaps of distinct origin, though the hypothesis that these meanings are a shortening of repartee is questionable
WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH rap1. rap , wrap2. rapped , rapt, wrapped
Words nearby rap
Ranvier, Ranvier's node, raob, RAOC, Raoult's law, rap, rapacious, Rapacki, Rapacki Plan, Rapallo, Rapamune
Other definitions for rap (2 of 3)
the least bit; the smallest amount; jot; iota: I don't care a rap.
a counterfeit halfpenny formerly passed in Ireland.
Origin of rap2
First recorded in 1715–25; origin uncertain
Other definitions for rap (3 of 3)
verb (used with object),rapped or rapt,rap·ping.Archaic.
to carry off; transport.
to transport with rapture.
to seize for oneself; snatch.
Origin of rap3
First recorded in 1520–30; back formation from rapt
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021
Words related to rap
knock, scold, blow, lick, tap, beat, swipe, swat, crack, strike, pat, conk, whack, conference, dialogue, confabulation, deliberation, discussion, yarn, discourse
How to use rap in a sentence
A marriage of the popular sound in rap with the romance Shakka himself wrote, this song is just in time for Valentine’s Day, and should be a proper introduction to this future king of the genre.
Soulection’s Joe Kay Presents ‘A Beginner’s Guide To Future Sounds’|Brande Victorian|February 5, 2021|Essence.com
In later video trailers, the animated characters are seen singing, rapping and dancing alongside the real-life beings.
6 Rookie K-Pop Groups to Watch in 2021|Kat Moon|January 22, 2021|Time
Salt-N-Pepa, one of the top-selling music groups of all time and the first female rap group to go Platinum, helped define a generation.
Actresses GG Townson And Laila Odom On What It Took To Become Salt-N-Pepa|Brande Victorian|January 22, 2021|Essence.com
An architect of the West Coast rap scene, his 1992 debut solo album, “The Chronic,” is considered one of the most important and influential albums of the era.
Dr. Dre says he’s ‘doing great’ at the hospital after suffering a reported brain aneurysm|Timothy Bella|January 6, 2021|Washington Post
In recent years, the rap community has experienced this firsthand.
After the untimely deaths of young rappers, fans are determined to continue their legacy|Ilana Kaplan|December 4, 2020|Washington Post
Pitchfork called him a “a rap-obsessed misfit from a summer camp who freestyles poorly” who is “ridiculous without knowing it.”
The Cult of Yung Lean: ‘I’m Building An Anarchistic Society From the Ground Up’|Marlow Stern|January 4, 2015|DAILY BEAST
“Poor Steve Scalise is getting a bad rap,” Knight, a long-time aide to former KKK leader David Duke, told The Daily Beast.
GOP Boss Gets Help From ‘White Hate’ Pal|Tim Mak|December 30, 2014|DAILY BEAST
And there are those who still have misgivings about exactly what “Christian rap” means.
Down With the King: Christianity Isn’t Hiding in Rap’s Closet|Stereo Williams|December 28, 2014|DAILY BEAST
The Communist Party of China gets a bad rap for cracking down on religion.
The Buddhist Business of Poaching Animals for Good Karma|Brendon Hong|December 28, 2014|DAILY BEAST
They joined forces to form the rap supergroup Run the Jewels.
The 10 Best Albums of 2014: Taylor Swift, Sia, Run the Jewels, and More|Marlow Stern|December 28, 2014|DAILY BEAST
He was in the midst of his reflections when there came a rap at his door, which the next moment was flung open.
"All they can rap and run for" is the more frequent colloquial version of this quaint phrase.
Notes and Queries, Number 177, March 19, 1853|Various
He gave to every syllable the value of a rap and certain words he terminated with an audible snap of his teeth.
Another rap, louder and more importunate, echoed through the large room.
The World Before Them|Susanna Moodie
Old Adam wanted two thousand dollars, they say, if he could only get them; but he could not, not a rap.
Skipper Worse|Alexander Lange Kielland
British Dictionary definitions for rap (1 of 3)
to strike (a fist, stick, etc) against (something) with a sharp quick blow; knockhe rapped at the door
(intr)to make a sharp loud sound, esp by knocking
(tr)to rebuke or criticize sharply
(tr foll by out) to put (forth) in sharp rapid speech; utter in an abrupt fashionto rap out orders
(intr)slangto talk, esp volubly
(intr)to perform a rhythmic monologue with a musical backing
rap over the knucklesto reprimand
a sharp quick blow or the sound produced by such a blow
a sharp rebuke or criticism
slangvoluble talk; chatterstop your rap
- a fast, rhythmic monologue over a prerecorded instrumental track
- (as modifier)rap music
slanga legal charge or case
beat the rapUS and Canadianslangto escape punishment or be acquitted of a crime
take the rapslangto suffer the consequences of a mistake, misdeed, or crime, whether guilty or not
Derived forms of raprapping, noun
Word Origin for rap
C14: probably of Scandinavian origin; compare Swedish rappa to beat
British Dictionary definitions for rap (2 of 3)
(used with a negative)the least amount (esp in the phrase not to care a rap)
Word Origin for rap
C18: probably from ropaire counterfeit coin formerly current in Ireland
British Dictionary definitions for rap (3 of 3)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cultural definitions for rap
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 alsohip-hop.)
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Other Idioms and Phrases with rap
In addition to the idiom beginning with rap
- beat the rap
- bum rap
- not give a damn (rap)
- take the rap
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
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