• contraption
  • audio pronunciation
  • \kun-TRAP-shun\
  • DEFINITION

noun

: device, gadget
  • EXAMPLES

My uncle fancied himself an inventor and his garage was always full of contraptions in various stages of construction.

"Each week, publisher and editor Dean Coombs, 61, produces his four-page, weekly newspaper using a giant Linotype machine…. You have to admire this simple editor whose Linotype typesetting contraption, in 2013, still chugs out inch-long lines of hot type spewed from a pot of molten lead exactly as it did when first fired up in 1923." — From an article by Louis Varricchio in the Addison Eagle (Vermont), August 19, 2013

  • DID YOU KNOW?

English has a number of words that can be used as general terms for mechanical or electronic devices, including "gadget," "gizmo," "widget," and "contraption." In addition to their meaning, these four words also have a couple of other things in common. First, they are all relative newcomers to the language. The oldest, "contraption," entered the language around 1825. Second, the origins of all four are a bit of a mystery (well, "widget" is believed to be an alteration of "gadget," but the origins of "gadget" are unknown—it didn't appear in print until 1886, but is believed to have been used among sailors perhaps as far back as the mid-1800s). Today's word, "contraption," may be a blend of "contrivance" (which can be used as another synonym of "gadget"), "trap," and "invention."

Test Your Memory: What former Word of the Day begins with "i," has 11 letters, and means "not readily investigated, interpreted, or understood"? The answer is …

  • MORE WORDS OF THE DAY

Visit our archives to see previous selections ยป

  • FEATURED ITEM FROM OUR STORE

An expressive t-shirt:

"Use Your Words"

Browse all items »

  • PODCAST

Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP

  • SUBSCRIBE

Subscribe to the Word of the Day e-mail

Manage Your Account