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verb [transitive]

to make changes to someone's personal Facebook pages without their knowledge or permission


noun [countable/uncountable]

'He forgets to logout, so every time she goes onto the website it automatically goes to his page and she "frapes" or facebook rapes him.'

Stuff.co.nz1st June 2011

'Best frape ever … One of the boys at uni left his facebook on when he went home on Friday and I changed his name to 'Mary-Anne Widdleberry' … Also changed his birthday to the day after the frape. Score.'

Drowned in Sound17th May 2010

If you're a carefree aficionado of Facebook who's in the habit of logging into their account and then getting up to grab a coffee or run a quick errand, perhaps you should be a bit more vigilant. The moment you turn your back on the keyboard could be just the opportunity for someone to frape you …

the classic victim of frape is a regular Facebook user who is careless about logging out of their account … thus giving another person unlimited access to personal pages

The word frape (plural frapes) is a new term sweeping the online community for the action of making changes to a person's Facebook pages without their knowledge or consent, usually as a kind of light-hearted practical joke. Frape can be used as a transitive verb with the person targeted as the direct object (often in the passive as in e.g. I got/was fraped), or as a noun used in both countable and uncountable senses to refer to the activity or an instance of it. There's also some evidence for the terms fraper and frapist in reference to perpetrators.

The classic victim of frape is a regular Facebook user who is careless about logging out of their account when they leave their computer or other electronic device unattended, thus giving another person unlimited access to personal pages which they can then edit in whatever humiliating way takes their fancy. Typical examples of fraping include changing a person's profile picture, interests, status, or even their sexuality – with unrestricted access to an account then anything has the potential to be sabotaged for the sake of a few laughs.

Often paraphrased as Facebook rape, and with an obvious phonetic mimicry of the word rape, the term frape has, unsurprisingly, provoked mixed reactions. Some people find it a really offensive way to characterize an activity which could so easily have been described in other ways, and, at worst, argue that it in some way trivializes the horrific crime of rape. At the other end of the spectrum, it is precisely this word's 'shock-value' which has of course enabled it to gain currency, an example of a once-heard-unlikely-to-be-forgotten bit of linguistic creativity.

Background – frape or frapes

The word frape is a blend of Facebook and rape which has been used in the domain of social networking for the last couple of years or so. It could be argued that its morphological connection and phonetic similarity with the word rape might relate to the linguistic concept of hyperbole – a deliberate and obvious use of exaggerated language for effect.

Though undoubtedly distasteful to some ears, the word rape appears to be taking on a more neutral meaning in 21st-century teen-speak, where if someone is raped, they are totally beaten or defeated by something. In fact, this usage represents a move in the direction of an older meaning of the word rape. Derived from the Latin word rapere ('seize'), rape originally meant to seize or destroy property, and it took a couple of hundred years before the sense connected with sexual violation really took hold. Though this meaning has until recently eclipsed all others, most native speaker dictionaries still record a sense for the verb rape along the lines of 'spoil or destroy'.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

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This article was first published on 15th August 2011.

Open Dictionary

Dunning-Kruger effect

the phenomenon by which an incompetent person is too incompetent to understand his own incompetence

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