Why do the words kid and nap become kidnap as a meaning of abduct, when did that take form and why?

Additionally, if nap is really nab, why did nab become nap?

  • 2
    Have you looked up the word in a good dictionary (and maybe, further)?
    – Kris
    Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 11:29
  • 2
    @Shmuel Google now finds etymology results. That means that, if you are curious about the origin of words, you can find a lot of them by just googling <word> etymology. It won't find every case, but it's a good quick starting point :)
    – xDaizu
    Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 12:11
  • So if you haven't even looked in a dictionary, would you agree that the downvote reason "does not show any research effort" apply?
    – pipe
    Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 12:34
  • @pipe Educating users that they should research before asking is good, but some users don't get the rhetorical question - "tone is hard to decipher online". Just use "normal sentence" instead.
    – user314366
    Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 13:30
  • @user314366 It is not a rhetorical question - it's a genuine question I would like an answer to. I have seen that some users show a complete disregard for any policies but other users are simply not aware of them.
    – pipe
    Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 13:35

1 Answer 1


From etymology online:

Kidnap: https://www.etymonline.com/word/kidnap#etymonline_v_1845

1680s, thieves' cant, a compound of kid (n.) "child" and nap (v.) "snatch away," which probably is a variant of nab (v.). Perhaps a back-formation from kidnapper, which is recorded earlier. Originally "to steal children to provide servants and laborers in the American colonies."

Nab: https://www.etymonline.com/word/nab

"to catch (someone)," 1680s, probably a variant of dialectal nap "to seize, catch, lay hold of" (1670s, now surviving only in kidnap), which possibly is from Scandinavian

when did that take form and why?

There is no mystery behind it. Nap is a spelling variant of nab.

  • 4
    In the words of Terry Pratchett, It's written in Old, before they invented spelling.
    – Separatrix
    Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 14:29
  • @Separatrix One of my many favorite Pratchett quotes.
    – xLeitix
    Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 14:40
  • Those who are down voting should also explain the reason.
    – Ubi.B
    Commented Aug 31, 2018 at 16:03

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