from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Pretentious, insincere, or empty language.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A contrivance for clapping in theaters.
  • noun Figuratively, an artifice or device to elicit applause or gain popularity; deceptive show or pretense.
  • Designing or designed merely to win approval or catch applause.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun obsolete A contrivance for clapping in theaters.
  • noun A trick or device to gain applause, especially pretentious but empty rhetoric; humbug.
  • adjective Contrived for the purpose of making a show, or gaining applause; deceptive; unreal.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun pompous or pretentious talk or writing


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Obsolete claptrap, a theatrical trick to win applause : clap + trap.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Theater slang, c. 1730, from clap and trap, referring to theatrical techniques or gags used to incite applause.


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  • also spelled clap-trap

    February 15, 2007

  • Nonsense, lies, exaggeration, bs 1950's slang.

    July 16, 2008

  • Citation on leucotomise.

    September 28, 2008

  • It's a trap.

    October 7, 2008

  • As a publisher once told H. L. Mencken, “there are four kinds of books that never, under any circumstances, lose money in the United States—first, detective stories, secondly, novels in which the heroine is forcibly debauched by the hero; thirdly, volumes on spiritualism, occultism, and other claptrap, and fourthly, books on Lincoln.�?

    —via 3 Quarks Daily

    My god! The plot of my bestseller drops into my lap like a ripe plum. The ghost of Lincoln debauches Nancy Drew.

    August 14, 2009