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Q: What is "ripping"?

A:  Of the various definitions I've found, I think the first one listed below is the most correct.  I can remember as a kid 'ripping' the music out of a cool games.  I think the meaning of the word is more closely to that of ripping a page out of a magazine.  Getting the music or graphics out of a game or demo was not a straight forward task and you had to be both crafty and sneaky to do it.  Even five years ago, getting the audio off of a CD in digital form was left only to uber-geeks.  Considering that I can remember 'ripping' music out of games 15 years ago, I think this would be the most correct origin of the word.  - Brian

The origin of the word "rip" in this context is interesting. It originally came from Amiga/Atari/Commie64 D00DZ that used to "rip" audio and graphic images from games, and it often implied that a bit of hacking was necessary to extract the data. Apparently it's now used to refer to directly reading the digital data from an audio CD; while the connection is somewhat obvious, there's rarely any hacking involved on the part of the ripper grin)

Ripping This is the slang term for “Audio across SCSI” or “Digital Audio Extraction.” This method of recording digitally copies (extracts) the music bit by bit directly from the CD’s surface, and does not degrade the quality of the music by converting it to analog.
The term "Digital Audio Extraction" sounds like something only a dentist should use. What does it mean?
Unless your computer is really old, it will do digital audio extraction. This is the process of taking files off of a CD and making them into separate song files. It's also known as "ripping." Ripper software programs are often used to make MP3 files from CDs, which is the origin of all the Napster fuss.

In better English it is called “Audio Extraction”. The etymology of “ripping” is probably “ to rip-off (a CD) from its files.