Why is it "Rapist" and not "Raper"

I hate the term “rapist” because it sounds like the person you’re talking about is studying rape or something, like a biologist or a dentist. We say “burglar,” “robber,” “murderer” and “gangster,” so why isn’t the word for someone who rapes “raper?”

Furthermore, what other words (I know there are some) end with “ist” even though it’s not in reference to someone studying or practicing a topic?

Well, a rapist is one who practices rape…

Like an extortionist practices extortion. Or an arsonist practices arson.

We had a Gas station here a while ago called “Rapers Gas”. So they had that part right.

Years ago, when I hung out near cops and the criminal courts more, “raper” actually seemed to be the slang term that most commonly used – part of the jargon of the trade as it were.

That’s all I got.

Arlo Guthrie used that form in Alice’s Restaurant Massacree when describing those sitting next to him on the group W bench.

If I recall correctly, the term he used was “father-rapers.”

Probably just a matter of common usage. We would say “He’s a raper of young women”, but that he is a serial rapist. That someone is a ‘raper’ is probably more correct than ‘rapist’. “Burglar” is not a verb form (that would be ‘burgle’), it’s a noun, and “burglary” the practice. “Robbery” is the practice of robbing, not “robber”. When you say that someone is a robber, the object is implied, i.e., “he’s a robber (of banks).” “Gangster” is also not a good example to use, as it has no verb form that I’m aware of.

Typist is another weird example.

It is amusing that when the typewriter was first invented, the ladies who are now called typists, were then refered to as typewriters.

Also, I never understand why the John Wayne movie was called The Shootist.

Webster’s 1913 defines “-ist” as: “A noun suffix denoting an agent, or doer, one who practices, a believer in.”

“Rapist” is derived from the noun form of “rape”. The verb form of “rape” is a recent innovation. (Well into the 20th century.) It’s the oddity, not “rapist.” We would talk of “The rape of the Sabine women,” not “the raping of the Sabine women,” and we would never say “The Romans raped the Sabine women.” (Ignoring that that example predates the more specific sense of sexual assault.)

Absent the verb form, “raper” would have been incorrect and strange sounding. We were already used to calling rapists “rapists” when we started using “rape” as a verb – and we continue to use rape as a noun. So why change the word to “raper?”

Rapist, bigamist, extortionist, terrorist – whatever. Any association you make with academics is coincidental. It’s just a noun thing.

which also falls into Larry Mudd’s note about deriving from a noun. Type refers to the letters which are dipped in ink and pressed to paper. The verb “to type” came much later.

Mother rapers too:

If I make art, would that make me an ‘arter’?

In the Old West people we now call ‘gunslingers’ or ‘gunfighters’ were called ‘shootists’.

Absolutely, and you would display your work in an artery.

<zoidberg>One art, please</zoidberg>

Gun guru Jeff Cooper insists that “shotist” with a single o is correct. Then again he habitually refers to himself in the third person plural so…

It’s said that the first common use of the word “computer” referred to a person, generally a woman, whose job it was to compute numbers (manually or perhaps with the help of a mechanical adding machine).

“Computer” and “calculator” have both been in use to refer to people who perform mathematical operations since the 18th century, at least. (Much more commonly applied to men, until the Second World War.)

Bah. They ain’t got nothing on “Tom Raper RV Dealership” in or about Charleston, West Virginia.
I always get a kick driving past them on 77.


Why rapist? So we can make silly therapist/the rapist jokes.

Bigamist? Well, now. That’s another joke entirely, an ethnic one.