More fully "rhapis palm": a South-East Asian dwarf palm of the genus Rhapis, having a slender stem, leaves deeply divided into narrow, ribbed segments, and yellowish flowers; especially R. excelsa, which is often cultivated as an ornamental. Also (in form Rhapis): the genus itself.
Late 18th century; earliest use found in William Aiton. From scientific Latin Rhapis, genus name (W. AitonHortus Kewensis III. 473) from Byzantine Greek ῥαπίς rod (already in ancient Greek in compounds, as e.g. χρυσόρραπις with wand of gold), of uncertain origin.