rap sheet
Posted: 11 June 2016 07:31 AM   [ Ignore ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3988
Joined  2007-02-26

A friend of mine in a field related to law enforcement recently told me that RAP sheet stands for ‘record of arrest and prosecution’.

This certainly sounds unlikely, but a bit of Googlation indicates that this is a widely accepted etymology.

Nebraska State Patrol website:
https://www.nebraska.gov/apps-nsp-limited-criminal/

The public may request a Record of Arrest and Prosecution (RAP) for individuals. The RAP sheet includes finger print based arrests and resulting dispositions. The person of interest must have been fingerprinted when arrested in order for the information to appear on the RAP sheet.

State of California Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General, FINGERPRINT BACKGROUND CHECKS
https://oag.ca.gov/fingerprints

The DOJ uses this information to compile records of arrest and prosecution, known as “RAP sheets,” for individuals and disseminates the information for law enforcement and regulatory (employment and licensing) purposes. RAP sheets are based upon fingerprint submissions, and therefore positively identified biometrically; a process by which a person’s unique identity is confirmed.

CJIS, Information Security Awareness, Training for Texas
https://www.dps.texas.gov/SecurityReview/secAwarenessTraining.pdf

III provides the FBI’s RAP sheet (Record of Arrest and Prosecution) and contains information reported by local, state and federal law enforcement agencies across the country.

As I expected, the OED says that the rap in rap sheet is the same as the word meaning “criminal accusation, charge”. This in turn is a particular meaning of rap meaning a blow or stroke, which dates back to the 14th century at least, with various spellings.

Still, I didn’t tell my friend she was wrong. These backronyms have a life and validity of their own. If various US law enforcement agencies have a record that is really called Record of Arrest and Prosecution, and they get called RAP sheets, then it is fair to say that RAP stands for Record of Arrest and Prosecution, regardless of etymology.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 11 June 2016 08:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1512
Joined  2007-02-14

From Online Etymology:

“Slang meaning “rebuke, blame, responsibility” is from 1777; specific meaning “criminal indictment” (as in rap sheet, 1960) is from 1903. To beat the rap is from 1927. Meaning “music with improvised words” first in New York City slang, 1979 (see rap (v.2)).”

Profile
 
 
Posted: 12 June 2016 04:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  6327
Joined  2007-01-03

The Big List

Profile
 
 
Posted: 12 June 2016 05:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4516
Joined  2007-01-29

To state the obvious, cops are not etymologists.  (And etymologists can’t arrest you, so it all evens out.)

Profile
 
 
Posted: 12 June 2016 06:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Moderator
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1173
Joined  2007-03-01

To state the obvious, cops are not etymologists.

But they are often not above naming things for the sake of the acronym. In 1985 the joint police forces of the UK introduced an IT system that could combine information from the (mostly otherwise incompatible) systems of the UK police forces for investigations into major incidents such as serial murders and high value frauds, and tautologically named it the Home Office Large Major Enquiry System.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 12 June 2016 06:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3988
Joined  2007-02-26
Dave Wilton - 12 June 2016 04:09 AM

The Big List

Well ding my dongs. I should have checked.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 12 June 2016 10:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
Moderator
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  749
Joined  2013-10-14

(And etymologists can’t arrest you, so it all evens out.)

I understand your point, but just for the sake of clarification: anyone can make a citizen’s arrest.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 12 June 2016 03:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  883
Joined  2007-02-07
Logophile - 12 June 2016 10:57 AM

I understand your point, but just for the sake of clarification: anyone can make a citizen’s arrest.

Hunh. I thought it was clear he was making a joke, not a “point.”

Profile
 
 
Posted: 12 June 2016 03:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
Moderator
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  749
Joined  2013-10-14

Hunh. I thought it was clear he was making a joke, not a “point.”

Only for those with a sense of humor.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 13 June 2016 02:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1512
Joined  2007-02-14

On the internet everyone knows you’re a dog, but they don’t know when you’re joking,

Profile
 
 
Posted: 13 June 2016 07:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3024
Joined  2007-01-30
Logophile - 12 June 2016 10:57 AM

(And etymologists can’t arrest you, so it all evens out.)

I understand your point, but just for the sake of clarification: anyone can make a citizen’s arrest.

Seriously, Logophile? Seriously?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 June 2016 07:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  6327
Joined  2007-01-03

I’ve updated the Big List entry. Not only does it include rap sheet, but I’ve added to rap (engage in conversation) and rap music.

Profile
 
 
   
 
 
‹‹ HD: Wrong.      turtle: interesting etymology ››