A rip is created by crosscurrents, or by current flowing through an obstructed or constricted channel or over an uneven bottom. In salt water, rips appear, intensify, diminish, and disappear on a daily basis, as the tides ebb and flow. In rivers and streams, they are constant, their force varying with the level of the water. When named, a rip, like a waterfall, is normally in the plural: Niagara Falls; Stand-Up Rips. In Maine Lingo, John Gould says that a rip “is less than a rapid but more than a riffle,” but this is erroneous, at least in Maine. Canoeists rate both Big Black Rapid, on the St. John River, and Spenser Rips, on the Dead, as class III whitewater. Rip(s) is preferable to rapid(s), being kinetic rather than merely descriptive. No canoeist, plunging down a steep and turbulent pitch, whoops out, “Let ’er rapid!”

Franklin Burroughs