Why Is Riprap Called Riprap?
People often ask us why riprap is called riprap.
Nobody knows the etymology for sure. But there is a dictionary definition that sheds a little light on the subject. In the American English of 1822 the word riprap was connected with a nautical word, rip-rap, which meant a “stretch of rippling water, often caused by underwater elevations.” The word “rap” also meant “blow, or strike.” People may have started to call it rip rap because the waves constantly blow into or strike the rocks – the same rocks that cause “a stretch of rippling water” when placed in shallow waters.
Kind of obscure.
Today, the term refers to a few different closely related definitions:
- Riprap, a loose stone used to form a foundation for a breakwater or other structure.
- Riprap, also known as rip rap, rip-rap, shot rock, rock armor or rubble, is rock or other material used to armor shorelines, streambeds, bridge abutments, pilings and other shoreline structures against scour and water or ice erosion.
- Riprap, a foundation or sustaining wall of stones or chunks of concrete thrown together without order (in water), or a layer of this or similar material on an embankment slope to prevent erosion.
The riprap we deal with pretty much falls into definition #2. Coupled with an underlying layer of special fabric, riprap is your shoreline’s best defense against erosion – and it can look mighty sharp. (More info here.)