"rectangular groove or channel cut out of the edge of a board or piece of stone so that it will join by overlapping with the next piece, similarly cut," late 14c., rabet, from Old French rabat "a recess in a wall, a lower section," literally "a beating down or back," a back-formation from rabattre "to beat down, beat back" (see rebate (v.); the noun is a doublet of this word).
The verb, meaning "to groove or fit (boards, etc.) by cutting rabbets" is attested from mid-15c. (implied in rabatted, rabetynge); Middle English also had rabet "joiner's plane, rabbet-plane" (mid-15c., from Old French rabot).
updated on May 01, 2021