late 14c., "seize prey; abduct, take by force," from rape (n.) and from Anglo-French raper (Old French rapir) "to seize, abduct," a legal term, probably from past participle of Latin rapere "seize, carry off by force, abduct" (see rapid).
Latin rapere was used for "sexually violate," but only very rarely; the usual Latin word being stuprare "to defile, ravish, violate," related to stuprum (n.), literally "disgrace." Meaning "to abduct (a woman), ravish;" also "seduce (a man)" is from early 15c. in English. Related: Raped; raping. Uncertain connection to Low German and Dutch rapen in the same sense.