1714, "cutting," present-participle adjective from rip (v.). Slang meaning "very fast, rapid" (probably now obsolete) is from 1826; hence the further slang development "excellent, splendid" (1846), marked in OED (1989) as "Now somewhat arch." Related: Rippingly.
Entries linking to ripping
"tear apart, cut open or off," c. 1400, rippen, "pull out sutures," probably from a North Sea Germanic language (compare Flemish rippen "strip off roughly," Frisian rippe "to tear, rip;" also Middle Dutch reppen, rippen "to rip") or else from a Scandinavian source (compare Swedish reppa, Danish rippe "to tear, rip"). Likely most or all of them are from a Proto-Germanic *rupjan- (from PIE root *reup-, *reub- "to snatch"). "Of somewhat obscure origin and history; it is not quite certain that all the senses really belong to the same word" [OED].
The meaning "to slash with a sharp instrument" is from 1570s. Intransitive sense of "be torn or split open" is by 1840. Related: Ripped; ripping. In old U.S. slang, "to utter strong language" (1772), often with out; hence "break forth with sudden violence." The meaning "to move with slashing force" (1798) is the sense in let her rip "allow something to go or continue unrestrained," an American English colloquial phrase attested by 1846.
At another time, when a charge was ordered one of the officers could not think of the word, and he shouted—'Let 'er rip!'—when the whole line burst out with a yell—'Let 'er rip!' and dashed in among the Mexicans, laughing and shouting this new battle cry. [from an account of Illinois volunteers in the Mexican-American War, in the Pensacola Gazette, March 29, 1851]
In garments we rip along the line at which they were sewed ; we tear the texture of the cloth; we say, "It is not torn; it is only ripped." More broadly, rip, especially with up, stands for a cutting open or apart with a quick, deep strike: as, to rip up a body or a sack of meal. Rend implies great force or violence. [Century Dictionary]
1610s, "one who or that which rips," in any sense of that word, originally chiefly in technical use and slang, agent noun from rip (v.).
The meaning "killer who mutilates his victims" (1890) is from Jack the Ripper, the notorious London serial murderer of 1888-1891, whose nickname contains a pun on ripper in sense of "tool for ripping" old slates, etc. (1823) and the slang meaning "very efficient or excellent person or thing, a 'ripping' fellow" (1838), from ripping (q.v.) in the sense of "excellent, splendid."