con·​trap·​tion | \kən-ˈtrap-shən \

Definition of contraption 

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Synonyms for contraption


appliance, contrivance, gadget, gimmick, gizmo (also gismo), jigger, widget

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What Exactly is a contraption?

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). Contraption, may be a blend of contrivance (which can be used as another synonym of gadget), trap, and invention.

Examples of contraption in a Sentence

The people wondered how the contraption worked. built a contraption for automatically buttering toast

Recent Examples on the Web

Ensley also claimed his mechanical contraption, which was 25 foot wide, picked up 60,000 balls an hour. Dawn Mitchell, Indianapolis Star, "RetroIndy: Little America and Wonderland kiddie park," 15 June 2018 Responsible for both Hive’s indoor and outdoor camera designs, Béhar isn’t new to the world of design — especially with contraptions like this. Stefan Etienne, The Verge, "Hive’s new Home View Outdoor security camera was designed by Yves Béhar," 29 Oct. 2018 This strange contraption looks like a soft fleece scarf but contains a lightweight metal support that rests on your shoulder and holds your head in the perfect position for a comfy night’s sleep. Janna Irons, Outside Online, "The Best International Travel Gear," 9 July 2018 He's previously built this fully functional skeeball machine, another ball contraption called Cataclysm, and a number of other smaller builds. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "This Gigantic Knex Machine Is the Reason God Created Balls," 27 June 2016 The beginning of the video — as in the initial cut Banksy released two days after the stunt— demonstrates how the contraption was built, but the artist doesn’t explain exactly what went wrong on the day. Julia Alexander, The Verge, "New Banksy video shows Girl with Balloon should have been totally shredded," 18 Oct. 2018 This wondrous contraption's known as a Hammock Bath, the creation of Splinter Works founders Miles Hartwell and Matt Withington. Taylor Mead, House Beautiful, "This Hammock Bathtub Is Unlike Anything You've Ever Seen Before," 28 Aug. 2018 The cozy contraption comes with two layers: fuzzy faux-Sherpa on one side, and plush fleece on the other. Jennifer Aldrich, Country Living, "This Super Soft and Insanely Affordable Sherpa Blanket Will Keep You Warm All Winter Long," 24 Aug. 2018 The minute one falls, the whole contraption starts to go. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Full Q&A: Redef CEO Jason Hirschhorn returns to Recode Media with Peter Kafka," 23 Aug. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'contraption.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of contraption

circa 1825, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for contraption

perhaps blend of contrivance, trap, and invention

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Last Updated

11 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for contraption

The first known use of contraption was circa 1825

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More Definitions for contraption



English Language Learners Definition of contraption

: a piece of equipment or machinery that is unusual or strange


con·​trap·​tion | \kən-ˈtrap-shən \

Kids Definition of contraption

: gadget

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More from Merriam-Webster on contraption

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with contraption

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for contraption

Spanish Central: Translation of contraption

Nglish: Translation of contraption for Spanish Speakers

Comments on contraption

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a nest or breeding place

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