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

  • noun A contrivance for catching and holding animals, as a concealed pit or a clamplike device that springs shut suddenly.
  • noun A stratagem for catching or tricking an unwary person.
  • noun A confining or undesirable circumstance from which escape or relief is difficult.
  • noun A device for sealing a passage against the escape of gases, especially a U-shaped or S-shaped bend in a drainpipe that prevents the return flow of sewer gas by means of a water barrier.
  • noun A device that hurls clay pigeons into the air in trapshooting.
  • noun A land hazard or bunker on a golf course; a sand trap.
  • noun A measured length of roadway over which electronic timers register the speed of a racing vehicle, such as a dragster.
  • noun A defensive strategy or play, as in basketball or hockey, in which two or more defenders converge on an offensive player shortly after the player gains possession of the ball or puck.
  • noun The act of trapping a soccer ball.
  • noun Football A running play in which the ball carrier advances through a hole in the defensive line created by allowing a defensive lineman to penetrate the backfield.
  • noun A light two-wheeled carriage with springs.
  • noun A trapdoor.
  • noun Music Percussion instruments, such as snare drums and cymbals, especially in a jazz band.
  • noun Slang The human mouth.
  • intransitive verb To catch in a trap; ensnare.
  • intransitive verb To prevent from escaping or getting free.
  • intransitive verb To deceive or trick by means of a scheme or plan. synonym: catch.
  • intransitive verb To seal off (gases) by a trap.
  • intransitive verb To furnish with traps or a trap.
  • intransitive verb To catch (a ball) immediately after it has hit the ground.
  • intransitive verb To gain control of (a moving soccer ball) by allowing it to hit and bounce off a part of the body other than the arm or hand.
  • intransitive verb To set traps for game.
  • intransitive verb To engage in trapping furbearing animals.
  • noun Personal belongings or household goods.
  • transitive verb To furnish with trappings.
  • noun Any of several dark, fine-grained igneous rocks often used in making roads.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A kind of movable ladder or steps; a ladder leading up to a loft.
  • noun In geology, any dark-colored rock having more or less of a columnar structure and apparently volcanic or eruptive in origin.
  • To catch in a trap: as. to trap foxes or beaver.
  • To insnare; take by stratagem: applied to persons.
  • To capture (fish) by means of a trap or trap-net.
  • To put in a trap and release to be shot at, as pigeons or glass balls.
  • In plumbing, to furnish with a trap.
  • Theat., to furnish (a stage) with the requisite traps for the plays to be performed.
  • To stop and hold, as the shuttle of a loom in the warp, or gas, a liquid, heat, etc., by an obstruction or impervious or sealed inclosure, as in the case of liquids or gases, or by insulating substances, as with heat or electricity; specifically, to stop and hold by a trap for the purpose of removing, as air carried forward by or entangled in water flowing through pipes, etc., water deposited from compressed atmospheric air when cooled, or condensed from steam in the passage of the latter through pipes, or air from pipes or receptacles into or through which steam is to be passed.
  • To set traps for game: as, to trap for beaver.
  • To handle or work the trap in a shooting-match.
  • To become stopped or impeded, as steam through accumulation of condensed water in a low part of a horizontal pipe, or in a steam-radiator by the presence of air which cannot escape, or the flow of water through a siphon by accumulation of air in the upper part of the bend, etc.
  • noun A contrivance, as a pitfall or some mechanical device that shuts suddenly, often by means of a spring, used for taking game and other animals.
  • noun A device for confining and suddenly releasing or tossing into the air objects to be shot at, as live pigeons or glass balls.
  • noun A kind of fish-net used especially in Narragansett Bay, consisting of an oblong inclosure of netting on three sides and at the bottom, anchored securely by the side of the channel.
  • noun A double-curved pipe, or a U-shaped section of a pipe, with or without valves, serving to form a water-seal to prevent the passage of air or gases through a pipe with which it is connected.
  • noun A piece of wood, somewhat in the shape of a shoe, hollowed at the heel, and moving on a pivot, in which the ball is placed in playing trap-ball; also, the game itself. See trap-ball.
  • noun A trap-door.
  • noun Any small complicated structure, especially one that is out of order; a rickety thing: so called in contempt. Compare rattletrap.
  • noun A carriage.


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

[Middle English, from Old English træppe.]

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

[Middle English trap, trapping, perhaps alteration of Old French drap, cloth, from Late Latin drappus.]

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

[Swedish trapp, from trappa, step, from Middle Low German trappe.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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"). Connection to "step" is "that upon which one steps". French trappe and Spanish trampa are ultimately borrowings from Germanic.


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  • The two men in the mean time raised a great wooden trap, covered with earth and briars, to conceal the entrance of a long shelving passage under-ground, to which from habits the poor beasts took very kindly of their own accord. Their masters kept tight hold of me, and let the trap down after them.

    - Lesage, The Adventures of Gil Blas of Santillane, tr. Smollett, bk 1 ch. 3

    September 12, 2008