My mission - “goes like a raped ape” needs solving. 
Posted: 25 June 2007 09:56 AM   [ Ignore ]
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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.)

The reply:

“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:

http://search.live.com/results.aspx?q="like+a+raped+ape"&form=QBRE

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.

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Posted: 26 June 2007 05:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I don’t know the origin of the phrase “raped ape”, but it was in common usage by the muscle car crowd in the towns in New England in the late 60’s. It was always used to describe a fast car as in “goes like a raped ape”. I always thought it was popular because the two words sort of conjured up a dramatic iimage and were nearly identically spelled. The V-8’ers seemed to like that sort of cleverness.

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Posted: 10 July 2007 11:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I am really quite sorry for the late response but I too have continued on my quest and have still been unable to get a accurate answer. :) It’s a mission.

By the way - I’ve come back and edited this to add this - I’ve got to agree with it being the large muscle cars and I’m sticking with 1 RA (raped ape) being equal to 350 HP (horsepower) as the mathematical equation.

[ Edited: 10 July 2007 11:10 PM by KGIII ]
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Posted: 11 July 2007 02:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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What about a rat up a drainpipe?

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Posted: 15 July 2007 03:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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That’d be fast. ;) That’s got to be at least 250 to 300 HP.

I’ve heard it mostly on the East Coast (in active use) in the United States of America. Come to think of it, I haven’t heard it anywhere else or in any other context.

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Posted: 15 July 2007 06:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Speculations are cheap. A really decisive answer (with solid documentary evidence) is something very different, and I doubt it’s going to be available in this case.

Here’s a cheap speculative etymology off the top of my head. All sorts of alternatives can be invented; I think the ones which are better are those which have at least SOME documentation of intermediate forms.

“Like blue blazes” (in the same sense, e.g., “it goes like blue blazes") is old, early 19th century or older, = “like hell”. Still used, I think. I casually speculate the “blue” may have been euphemistic for “bloody”.

Then there are all sorts of other “blue” expressions, old and new: “like blue lightning”, “like blue beans”, etc. Perhaps further euphemisms originally.

There is “like a blue-assed fly”, MAYBE related to the above.

I have encountered “like a red-assed ape” (also “red ape”, “red-tailed ape”, “red-assed baboon”, etc.). It’s sometimes used just like “raped ape” for fast automobiles. Which of these is primary? I don’t know but let’s suppose “red-assed” is. Why a red-assed ape? To me “blue-assed ape” (i.e., baboon) is more natural (the color is more distinctive) ... I can’t find an example of “like a blue-assed ape” but I find one example with “blue-assed monkey” on the Web.

So here’s a speculation: “Goes like blue blazes” > “Goes like a blue-assed ape/monkey/baboon” [to make it rude and novel, hence more forceful] > “Goes like a red-assed ape” [because somebody didn’t recognize “blue-assed” and thought a red (maybe burned/irritated) ass would cause the ape to be more active] > “Goes like a raped ape” [to make a rhyme, and explain the redness].

Only one of many possible speculations.

[ Edited: 15 July 2007 06:42 AM by D Wilson ]
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Posted: 15 July 2007 10:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Don’t know if this will help or hinder, but I remember the phrase

Ran like a raped ape

as a boy from the mid-early 50s in SE Michigan, and thereafter.  Frequently heard in the military even today.  I consulted Richard A. Spears, Slang and Euphemism [3rd ed., ‘01], but drew a blank.
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Posted: 15 July 2007 06:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Recall previous discussion about “striped ass ape” (or “stripe-assed ape”, etc.).

edit:typo

[ Edited: 16 July 2007 06:49 AM by Dr. Techie ]
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Posted: 16 July 2007 12:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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That is sort of the way I heard it, Dr. I heard it from a guy who heard it from his brother who came back from the service many years ago (1950’s?). He would say, “He took off like a striped-assed ape!” And, by the way, he used it so much, I got tired of hearing it. I may be wrong about the time frame, but it was a long time ago.

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Posted: 25 April 2008 09:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I may be totally incorrect here because I have found absolutely nothing to confirm my hunch regarding the meaning of this phrase, “striped-ass ape.” I believe the origin of this to be pre-civil war era.  I’m sure many of you have heard the expression, “running like a scalded dog.” The dog is running as a result of pain inflicted and I think the same applies to the “ape”.  I believe striped (pronounced as 2 syllables) refers to the condition of a person’s backside after being whipped or lashed.  As far back as Biblical times you will find that the wounds of such beatings were referred to as stripes.  I believe the “ape” actually refers to African American Slaves.  A striped-ass ape could conceivably refer to an African American slave that has just received a whipping.  There was definately a time in history where this saying would have made perfect sense in the aforementioned supposition.

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Posted: 26 April 2008 05:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Don’t forget the internal rhyme in raped ape. The phrase may not have a logical origin, arising instead out of the nonsense rhyme.

(Also, don’t forget that blue blazes is alliterative, which certainly played a large part in its origin and survival.)

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Posted: 26 April 2008 08:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Dave Wilton - 26 April 2008 05:51 AM

Don’t forget the internal rhyme in raped ape. The phrase may not have a logical origin, arising instead out of the nonsense rhyme.

(Also, don’t forget that blue blazes is alliterative, which certainly played a large part in its origin and survival.)

I’m not sure that these phrases are all related.  There are many phrases expressing the rapidity of an object that have totally different origins.  A raped ape really makes no sense at all.  In the animal kingdom Humans are the only ones to express consent so I agree. 

I have also found that “ape” was a derogatory term used to label African Americans that originated pre-1900.  The phrase “striped-ass ape,” in my experience, seems to be more widely known in southern states.  That would seem logical since slavery was practiced there for hundreds of years. 

Logically, apes are no where near the fastest animals, hence I doubt that the word “ape” can be taken literally.  I’m sure this saying has a logical origin rather than just nonsense.  This is the most logical explanation I can surmise. 

Quite possibly the meaning/origin of this saying was lost due to the age of political correctness and the changing values of our society.

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Posted: 10 September 2013 07:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Ran into this thread that was related to “Spotted Ass Ape”.  This was popular slang around WWII. My father was a Tail Turret Gunner in a B-24 over Europe.  In order to form and assemble upwards of 1000 Heavy Bombers was quite a task.  The found that if they took one of their old war weary birds painted it up garishly and used it to assemble on before they left, it would leave and the lead Bomber would come up, take its place and join the bomber stream up to 200 miles long.  My fathers Formation Ship was called the “Spotted Ass Ape”. Given that name due to the relationship of a Baboon species that had a multi colored butt and the paint of the B-24.  FYI

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Posted: 11 September 2013 07:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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LatLong - 26 June 2007 05:09 AM

I don’t know the origin of the phrase “raped ape”, but it was in common usage by the muscle car crowd in the towns in New England in the late 60’s. It was always used to describe a fast car as in “goes like a raped ape”. I always thought it was popular because the two words sort of conjured up a dramatic iimage and were nearly identically spelled. The V-8’ers seemed to like that sort of cleverness.

Yeah, back in the day nifty alliterations and neat rhymes were de rigueur in hot rod circles.

Rocket Eight
Raped Ape

You had to sound cool if your rod was a Rocket Eight Oldsmobile.

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