• Trap


    • IPA: /træp/
    • Rhymes: -æp

    Origin 1

    Middle English trappe, from Old English træppe, treppe ("trap, snare") (also in betræppan ("to trap")) from Proto-Germanic *trap-. Akin to Old High German trappa, trapa ("trap, snare"), Middle Dutch trappe ("trap, snare"), Middle Low German treppe ("step, stair") (German Treppe "step, stair"), Old English treppan ("to step, tread") and possibly Albanian trap "raft, channel, path". Connection to "step" is "that upon which one steps". French trappe and Spanish trampa are ultimately borrowings from .

    Full definition of trap



    (plural traps)
    1. A machine or other device designed to catch (and sometimes kill) animals, either by holding them in a container, or by catching hold of part of the body.I put down some traps in my apartment to try and deal with the mouse problem.
    2. A trick or arrangement designed to catch someone in a more general sense; a snare.Unfortunately she fell into the trap of confusing biology with destiny.
      • ShakespeareGod and your majesty
        Protect mine innocence, or I fall into
        The trap is laid for me!
    3. A covering over a hole or opening; a trapdoor.Close the trap, would you, before someone falls and breaks their neck.
    4. A wooden instrument shaped somewhat like a shoe, used in the game of trapball; the game of trapball itself.
    5. Any device used to hold and suddenly release an object.They shot out of the school gates like greyhounds out of the trap.
    6. A bend, sag, or other device in a waste-pipe arranged so that the liquid contents form a seal which prevents the escape of noxious gases, but permits the flow of liquids.
    7. A place in a water pipe, pump, etc., where air accumulates for want of an outlet.
    8. (historical) A light two-wheeled carriage with springs.
      • 1913, D.H. Lawrence, ,The two women looked down the alley. At the end of the Bottoms a man stood in a sort of old-fashioned trap, bending over bundles of cream-coloured stuff; while a cluster of women held up their arms to him, some with bundles.
      • 1919, William Somerset Maugham, ,I had told them they could have my trap to take them as far as the road went, because after that they had a long walk.
      • Orwell Animal Farm|1At the last moment Mollie, the foolish, pretty white mare who drew Mr. Jones's trap, came mincing daintily in, chewing at a lump of sugar.
    9. (slang) A person's mouth.Keep your trap shut.
    10. (in the plural) belongings
      • 1870, Mark Twain, Running for Governor,...his cabin-mates in Montana losing small valuables from time to time, until at last, these things having been invariably found on Mr. Twain's person or in his "trunk" (newspaper he rolled his traps in)...
    11. (slang) cubicle (in a public toilet)I've just laid a cable in trap 2 so I'd give it 5 minutes if I were you.
    12. (slang) Short for trapezius muscle in bodybuilding
    13. (sports) Short for trapshooting.
    14. (computing) An exception generated by the processor or by an external event.
    15. (Australia, slang, historical) A mining license inspector during the Australian gold rush.
      • 1996, Judith Kapferer, Being All Equal: Identity, Difference and Australian Cultural Practice, page 84,The miners′ grievances centred on the issue of the compulsory purchase of miners′ licences and the harassment of raids by the licensing police, the ‘traps,’ in search of unlicensed miners.
      • 2006, Helen Calvert, Jenny Herbst, Ross Smith, Australia and the World: Thinking Historically, page 55,Diggers were angered by frequent licence inspections and harassment by ‘the traps’ (the goldfield police).
    16. (US, slang, informal, African American Vernacular English) A vehicle, residential building, or sidewalk corner where drugs are manufactured, packaged, or sold.
    17. (slang, informal, pejorative) A person with male genitalia who can be mistaken for a female; a convincing transvestite or transwoman.
      • 2010, 20 July, Antonio E. Gonzalez, Re:Moyashimon Live Action, Of course Kei would look like a young woman, that's how traps work!
      • 2011, 27 May, , Re: anons target US chamber, And trust me you don't want to see a trap ether. I like my girls without a ding-a-ling.
      • 2013, 7 September, Bobbie Sellers, Re: What's your favouite anime?, I saw Episode 10 of the anime today. When it explains about the trap's problems in HS it was much clearer than the same section of the manga.
    18. A kind of movable stepladder.



    1. (transitive) To physically capture, to catch in a trap or traps, or something like a trap.
      • 2013, Stephen P. Lownie, David M. Pelz, Stents to Prevent Stroke, As we age, the major arteries of our bodies frequently become thickened with plaque, a fatty material with an oatmeal-like consistency that builds up along the inner lining of blood vessels. The reason plaque forms isn’t entirely known, but it seems to be related to high levels of cholesterol inducing an inflammatory response, which can also attract and trap more cellular debris over time.
    2. to trap foxes
    3. (transitive) To ensnare; to take by stratagem; to entrap.
      • DrydenI trapped the foe.
    4. (transitive) To provide with a trap.
      to trap a drain;  to trap a sewer pipe
    5. (intransitive) To set traps for game; to make a business of trapping game; as, to trap for beaver.
    6. (intransitive) To leave suddenly, to flee.
    7. (US, slang, informal, African American Vernacular English) (slang) (intransitive) To sell narcotics, especially in a public area.
    8. (computing, intransitive) To capture (e.g. an error) in order to handle or process it.

    Related terms

    Origin 2

    From Swedish trapp, from trappa ("stair").



    1. A dark coloured igneous rock, now used to designate any non-volcanic, non-granitic igneous rock; trap rock.

    Origin 3

    Akin to Old English trappe ("trappings"), and perhaps from an Old French word of the same origin as English drab ("a kind of cloth").


    1. To dress with ornaments; to adorn; said especially of horses.
      • Spenserto deck his hearse, and trap his tomb-black steed
      • TennysonThere she found her palfrey trapped
        In purple blazoned with armorial gold.
    © Wiktionary