I tried another forum and didn’t get any answers and, after finding your site, I’ve realized that I was likely better off starting my quest here. Here is a quote of my initial question:
I’ve scoured the internet and am just about ready to email the language department over at Oxford to find the answer to this question.
What is the origin of the phrase in the topic? It means to go really quickly. It is sometimes used as “goes like a raped ape up a tree.”
There are a number of instances where it can be seen in conversational English but I’m not able to find any print references to date the origin either.
(I’m not kidding, this is really something I’m quite curious about. So, if you know or are willing to join in on my mission of discovery then thank you in advance.)
“Raped ape” is not that common in the United States any longer, but was more common a few decades ago. I believe that it was slang in the Second World War. I’ve never heard the expression you used, and have always heard it used in the context of “lucky"---"he made out like a raped ape.”
My response to that:
I wonder if, perhaps, it has changed in its meaning (as the English language is wont to do) and where this change occurred. Here are some examples of it being used to mean going rapidly:
This is surely an odd question but the question stemmed from a conversation of conversion which, honestly, was an absurd question in the first place. The original question was, “How fast does a raped ape go and how many horsepower are in a raped ape.”
Lacking an official answer I have postulated that 1 RA is equal to 350 HP because a 350 V8 powered automobile certainly goes like a raped ape. But, the origin of the phrase is still unknown and this is a mystery that must be solved.
So, well, if anyone can assist me with the mystery (after this my life will surely be complete) I would appreciate it a great deal.