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A strap, sometimes also called strop (the older form of strap), is a strip, usually of fabric or leather.

The word probably derives from the Old French estrop, itself from the Latin stroppus "strap, band," perhaps from Etruscan, ultimately from Greek strophos "twisted band," from strephein "to turn"


Binding straps

Thin straps are used as part of clothing or baggage, or bedding such as a sleeping bag. See for example spaghetti strap, shoulder strap. A strap differs from a belt mainly in that a strap is usually integral to the item of clothing; either can be used in combination with buckles.

Straps are also used to attach and bind items, to objects, animals (for example a saddle on a horse) and people, or even to tie down people and animals, as on an apparatus for corporal punishment. Occasionaly a strap is specfied after what it binds or holds, e.g. chin strap.

Disciplinary strapping

As an implement of severe physical punishment, which is then called strapping after it (alongside more general terms as lashing, and confusingly, even in some official language, words like belting -in principle a belt is lighter, without a handle-, whipping and even paddling, all strictly speaking reserved for other implements), it is a particularly, broad and heavy strip of leather whipping device often with a hard handle while the more flexible 'blade' whips the flesh of the victim. Probably because of the stiffness the word is sometimes used interchangeably with a leather paddle (spanking). In stead of having one specially made one can also, especially in a private sphere, use an object of the same stirrup leather, say in a stable; like the Scottish tawse (which is a forked version with two or more tails) both aze likely to be suppllied by a saddlemaker.

  • The real thing, usually made for institutional use, is also known as prison strap because it was mainly used on adult convicts (for discipline within the prison system, or as an original judicial corporal punishment, often combined with prison time, imposed by court but carried out by prison staff), notably in the USA (mainly the South, e.g. Arkansas at least still 1967; sometimes a spanking inflicted on the trousers, sometimes bare bottom; also used on the back) and Canada (till 1972; a spanking on the bare buttocks or stark naked), but also on minors in reformatories (on the trousers seat or on the bare buttocks) and in schools (particularly in Canada, on the hand, still reported in 2000).
  • Because of the forceful impact it makes, which can easily knock the recipient out of balance and fall over (reported by strapped punishees who were ordered to take it while grabbing their ankles), the victim is usually supported in a bending or lying position, often tied down, e.g. over a table or punishment horse, or against a whipping post.
  • like the holed paddle, there is a version with holes in it, which intentionally increases the risk and severity of blistering if administered on the bare skin
  • an even crueler modification is to fix metal brads on the leather, which can cut into the flesh (as on a colonial chicote, or the knots in the thongs of a cat o' nine tails which were only for the gravest offenses) - only known from Colorado State Prison in Canon City, as illustrated [1] circa 1900, where it was called paddle
  • Possibly again because of the gravity of this form of flogging, and probably for other historical reasons, it was never very popular in domestic (mainly child) or non-punitive discipline, where the bare hand, paddle and pervertibles (such as slippering) are often preferred; strappings are rather reserved (like caning and birching) for the gravest offences, and/or applied with a lighter model (comparable in effect with a non-doubled belting) and/or clad.

(Razor) strop

In origin the word is simply an alternative form of strap, but it is now mainly used in the sense of a flexible strip of leather or canvas used for sharpening a razor, also known as a razor strop.

It may be in the form of a hanging belt or a hand-held paddle. In both cases, as the names suggest, it makes a dreaded pervertible for punitive use (e.g. spanking), especially if made of have leather, like a strap or a tawse; antique razor strops are generally heavier.

Use of a special paste or dressing is recommended to condition the material.

Other uses

In nautical usage a strap is short rope (or cable) with two loops at both ends, forming an eight without crossing itself: a seizing forms the two loops. The rope is wound around a tackle whereas one of the loops is secured to a hook, in the other loop is the tackle.

  • The word "Strap" is also a street slang term for a hand gun or pistol.

cs:Strop nl:Strop de:Stropp


  • The derived verb to strap means to use or apply a strap, such as to bind something (as with rope or string) or to inflict a disciplinary strapping
  • The derived verb to strop means to use or apply a (razor) strop

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