Bad Rap vs. Bad Rep

Is there a difference? Apparently slightly so!

According to Merriam-Webster, in this context:

rap is "a negative and often undeserved reputation or charge —often used withbum or bad"

rep is slang for "reputation; especially : status in a group (as a gang)"

So, from these definitions and other things I've read:
- If someone has a "bad rap", it's typically because that person is getting blamed for or associated with negativity for something that person may not have done.
- If someone has a "bad rep", others also think poorly of that person, but likely for something that person did, or for a track record of sketchy behavior.

Of course, in this day and age, the meaning of phrases can change with how the populace uses them - so don't be surprised if some find these interchangeable!


  1. One question - was the "populous" above meant to be "populace"?

  2. I really needed to know this difference.
    Thank you very much for sharing this info :)

  3. Think of "RAP" sheet--a criminal's record. RAP = Record of Arrests and Prosecutions.

  4. Actually "bad rep" is very rarely used and means the same thing as "bad rap". "Bad rep" is usually taken as a misspelling of "bad rap."