cal·​trop ˈkal-trəp How to pronounce caltrop (audio)
variants or less commonly calthrop
ˈkal-thrəp How to pronounce caltrop (audio)
caltrops also calthrops plural in form but singular or plural in construction : star thistle sense 1
: puncture vine
also : any of various related herbs (genera Tribulus and Kallstroemia) of the same family (Zygophyllaceae, the caltrop family)
: a device with four metal points so arranged that when any three are on the ground the fourth projects upward as a hazard to the hooves of horses or to pneumatic tires

Examples of caltrop in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The book’s cover image reflects the internal shape of the novel: a caltrop. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, 6 Jan. 2022 Tuscaloosa police spokeswoman Stephanie Taylor said officers responded after a security guard noticed several homemade caltrop spikes - which cause tire blowouts - in the roadway and parking lot, Taylor said. Carol Robinson |, al, 15 Dec. 2022 During a search warrant, investigators learned that the man had purchased 170 caltrop spikes through his Amazon account. Connor Sanders, The Salt Lake Tribune, 2 Nov. 2021

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'caltrop.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English caltrappe, alteration of calketrappe star thistle, from Old English calcatrippe, from Medieval Latin calcatrippa

First Known Use

1519, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of caltrop was in 1519

Dictionary Entries Near caltrop

Cite this Entry

“Caltrop.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Sep. 2023.

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