Definition of rasp in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /rasp/


1 [in singular] A harsh, grating noise: the rasp of the engine
More example sentences
  • I whispered, my voice coming out as a harsh rasp.
  • The second voice was harsh, almost a rasp like someone with a sore throat.
  • She waits for another useless barrage of platitudes and axioms, but all she catches is the harsh rasp of his breathing.
2A coarse file or similar metal tool with a roughened surface for scraping, filing, or rubbing down objects of metal, wood, or other hard material.
Example sentences
  • The tools used for more refined work include gouges, drills, various types of chisel, a mallet, rasps, files, and rifflers, some of which duplicate the tools used in stonecarving and modelling.
  • I spent a lot of time in the Cooper stock shop and watched awestruck as a talented stockmaker with nothing but a pencil outlined a classic's cheekpiece and then made it happen with a couple of wood rasps.
  • You can add a paint mixer, right-angle drive, wire brushes, wood countersinks, and even saws, lathes, and rotary rasps and files.


1 [no object] Make a harsh, grating noise: my breath rasped in my throat
More example sentences
  • Sara ran as fast as she could, her breath rasping in her throat and blood pounding in her ears.
  • The breath rasped in her throat as she began the game of cat and mouse, charred robe held up past her knees so she could run.
  • Breath rasped in his throat and drops of red flew from his side as he loped past the pews.
1.1 [with direct speech] Say in a harsh, grating voice: “Stay where you are!” he rasped
More example sentences
  • ‘Come Defender and fight,’ it rasped in grating voice.
  • ‘I can't stop loving you,’ he rasped in that wonderful voice, ‘I've made up my mind.’
  • When I picked it up, a smoky voice rasped at me, ‘Goddamnit, Crumley, where the hell are you?’
croak, squawk, caw, say hoarsely
2 [with object] Scrape (something) with a rasp in order to make it smoother.
Example sentences
  • Initially, wood is rasped evenly from the length of each limb on the bow.
  • The thrips will rasp the foliage, leaving whitish streaks.
  • Any flares present at this time are removed by rasping the lower part of the hoof wall from the outside.
scrape, rub, abrade, grate, grind, sand, file, scratch, scour;
Medicine  excoriate
2.1(Of a rough surface or object) scrape (something, especially someone’s skin) in a painful or unpleasant way.
Example sentences
  • Pale knuckles rasped against its worn surface, falling in gentle depressions in the wood made by countless other such actions.
2.2 (rasp something away/off) Remove something by scraping it off.
Example sentences
  • The dog-whelk's radula drills into other animals such as barnacles, while the limpet's is used to rasp algae off rock surfaces.
  • You probably rasp the soles off their shoes just for fun before they know what's happening.
  • Most chitons feed by rasping algae and other encrusted food off of the rocks on which they crawl.


Middle English (as a verb): from Old French rasper, perhaps of Germanic origin.

Words that rhyme with rasp

clasp, gasp, grasp, hasp

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: rasp

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.