1540s, "completely destroy," an alteration of racen "pull or knock down" (a building or town), from earlier rasen (14c.), etymologically "to scratch, slash, scrape, erase," from Old French raser "to scrape, shave," from Medieval Latin rasare, frequentative of Latin radere (past participle rasus) "to scrape, shave." This has cognates in Welsh rhathu, Breton rahein "to scrape, shave." Watkins says it is "possibly" from an extended form of the PIE root *red- "to scrape, scratch, gnaw." But de Vaan writes, "Since this word family is only found in Italo-Celtic, a PIE origin is uncertain." From 1560s as "shave off, remove by scraping," also "cut or wound slightly, graze." Related: Razed; razing.