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January 31, 2023

Is it ‘bad rap’ or ‘bad rep’ (and what does it mean)?

The terms “bad rap” and “bad rep” are frequently confused. If your neighbor is known around town to be nasty and inconsiderate, do they have a “bad rep” or a “bad rap”? The correct answer may surprise you.

In English, there are plenty of misused phrases. Even some of the best writers are still mistakenly using the wrong phrases. For example, some people say, “tongue and cheek” when really, the correct phrase is “tongue in cheek.” Another phrase that people frequently get wrong is “for all intensive purposes”—the correct phrase is “for all intents and purposes.”

There’s a lot of confusion about whether the phrase “bad rap” or “bad rep” is correct. After all, they are only different by a single letter. But if you want to impress others with your writing, it’s important that you make sure you are using the correct phrase.

Is “bad rap” or “bad rep” correct?

The term “bad rap” is the correct phrase used to describe someone or something’s bad reputation. It can also be used to describe an undeserved reputation.

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Even though most may not realize it, saying someone gets a “bad rep” is incorrect. Many people are understandably confused by this since “reputation” begins with rep-. In recent years, “bad rep” has occasionally been accepted since it is so widely used, but “bad rap” is the original phrase, so it’s best to stick with the latter. Some even write “bad wrap,” which is also incorrect. From here on out, make sure to remove “bad rep” and “bad wrap” from your writing and stick with the original phrase.

Examples of “bad rap” used in a sentence

To help you get a better idea of how you can use “bad rap” in a sentence, here are some sentences using the phrase:

  • That airline gets a bad rap for constantly delaying flights and losing luggage.
  • My favorite singer has a bad rap for constantly cheating on his partners.
  • That city gets a bad rap for lots of violent crime.
  • The CEO gets a bad rap for mistreating her employees.
  • My coworker has gotten a bad rap around the office for being rude, but I think he’s a kind person.
  • That restaurant has gotten a bad rap around town for slow service, but I ate there the other day, and it was fine.

Where does the term “bad rap” come from?

The word “rap” has a long history. In the 18th century, “rap” meant punishment. For example, a student might get a rap across the knuckles for misbehaving in class. In the 19th century, “rap” became slang for a prison sentence. For example, if one “beat the rap,” it meant they avoided a prison sentence.1 Now that you know the origin of the word “rap,” the phrase “bad rap” starts to make a lot more sense.

How to remember which term is correct

Have you ever heard the term “rap sheet”? The best way to remember that “bad rap” is the correct term is to remember “rap sheet,” a slang that is used to describe someone’s criminal record. For example, if someone has a long rap sheet, they have been arrested many times. Or you could remember that “rap” can also mean a sharp blow, and a “bad rap” is a blow to someone’s reputation.

More tips to improve your writing skills

Aside from researching slang and phrases to ensure they are correct, a great way to improve your writing is by downloading a writing assistant extension like Microsoft Editor to get instant feedback on your work. Editor will help you check for grammar, misspellings, capitalization, and punctuation errors across social media, email, online documents, and more.

Conclusion: Use “bad rap,” not “bad rep”

“Bad rap” is the original and correct phrase here, so make sure to start implementing it in your writing. Now that you’ve learned which phrase is correct, you can proceed to write clearly and with confidence.

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