en·​trap in-ˈtrap How to pronounce entrap (audio)
entrapped; entrapping; entraps

transitive verb

: to catch in or as if in a trap
: to lure into a compromising statement or act
Choose the Right Synonym for entrap

catch, capture, trap, snare, entrap, ensnare, bag mean to come to possess or control by or as if by seizing.

catch implies the seizing of something in motion or in flight or in hiding.

caught the dog as it ran by

capture suggests taking by overcoming resistance or difficulty.

capture an enemy stronghold

trap, snare, entrap, ensnare imply seizing by some device that holds the one caught at the mercy of the captor.

trap and snare apply more commonly to physical seizing.

trap animals
snared butterflies with a net

entrap and ensnare more often are figurative.

entrapped the witness with a trick question
a sting operation that ensnared burglars

bag implies shooting down a fleeing or distant prey.

bagged a brace of pheasants

Examples of entrap in a Sentence

We used the net to entrap a school of fish. The air bubbles were entrapped in ice. She felt that she was entrapped in an unhappy marriage.
Recent Examples on the Web One of the adults on the bus became partially entrapped in the bus and had to be evacuated by a medical helicopter to Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte in serious condition. Sarah Al-Arshani, USA TODAY, 9 Apr. 2024 This then leads to incredibly dangerous relapses and entraps people in harmful cycles of treatment, often for years at a time. Hannah Dylan Pasternak, SELF, 25 Mar. 2024 Glue traps — boards coated with an adhesive meant to entrap rodents — have ensnared birds, bats, chipmunks, lizards, opossums, mice, rabbits, salamanders, snakes, turtles and even flying squirrels, Shaw said, citing the WILD-ONe database, created by the Wildlife Center of Virginia. Brittny Mejia, Los Angeles Times, 4 Mar. 2024 Overall, though, Israel's siege of the Gaza Strip has entrapped the territory's population, unlike other wars where refugees can find a country to flee to. Aya Batrawy, NPR, 26 Feb. 2024 That video was later used to suggest Epps was a government plant there to entrap Trump supporters. Rachel Weiner, Washington Post, 3 Jan. 2024 Most of the federal informants who have emerged from criminal cases related to Jan. 6 were not tasked by their handlers with spying on right-wing subjects — let alone with seeking to entrap Trump supporters into storming the Capitol. Angelo Fichera, New York Times, 23 Nov. 2023 Epps became the face of a prolific unproven allegation that federal government agents were secretly working among the crowd of rioters on Jan. 6 to entrap Trump supporters. Ashley Oliver, Washington Examiner, 9 Jan. 2024 Or perhaps that outcome only further underlines the drama’s central point, about the way the system entraps us all. Angie Han, The Hollywood Reporter, 21 Nov. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'entrap.' 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 French entraper, from en- + trape trap

First Known Use

1531, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of entrap was in 1531

Dictionary Entries Near entrap

Cite this Entry

“Entrap.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/entrap. Accessed 21 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


en·​trap in-ˈtrap How to pronounce entrap (audio)
: to catch in or as if in a trap

Legal Definition


transitive verb
en·​trap in-ˈtrap How to pronounce entrap (audio)
entrapped; entrapping
: to cause (a person) to commit a crime by means of undue persuasion, encouragement, or fraud in order to later prosecute
police entrap him into violating the literal terms of a criminal statuteW. R. LaFave and A. W. Scott, Jr.

More from Merriam-Webster on entrap

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!