late 14c., "seize prey, take by force," from Anglo-Fr. raper,
"to seize, abduct," a legal term, from L. rapere
"seize, carry off by force, abduct" (see rapid
). L. rapere
was used for "sexual violation," but only very rarely; the usual L. word being stuprum,
lit. "disgrace." Sense of "sexual violation or ravishing of a woman" first recorded in Eng. as a noun, 1481 (the noun sense of "taking anything -- including a woman -- away by force" is from c.1400). The verb in this sense is from 1577. Rapist
is from 1883.