noun (1)
\ ˈtrap How to pronounce trap (audio) \

Definition of trap

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1 : a device for taking game or other animals especially : one that holds by springing shut suddenly
2a : something by which one is caught or stopped unawares also : a position or situation from which it is difficult or impossible to escape
b : a football play in which a defensive player is allowed to cross the line of scrimmage and then is blocked from the side while the ballcarrier advances through the spot vacated by the defensive player
c : the act or an instance of trapping the ball in soccer
d : a defensive maneuver in basketball in which two defenders converge quickly on the ball handler to steal the ball or force a bad pass
3a : a device for hurling clay pigeons into the air
b : sand trap
c : a piece of leather or section of interwoven leather straps between the thumb and index finger of a baseball glove that forms an extension of the pocket
4 slang : mouth
5 : a light usually one-horse carriage with springs
6 : any of various devices for preventing passage of something often while allowing other matter to proceed especially : a device for drains or sewers consisting of a bend or partitioned chamber in which the liquid forms a seal to prevent the passage of sewer gas
7 traps plural : a group of percussion instruments (such as a bass drum, snare drums, and cymbals) used especially in a dance or jazz band
8 : an arrangement of rock strata that favors the accumulation of oil and gas
9 traps plural [speed trap] : a measured stretch of a course over which electronic timing devices measure the speed of a vehicle (such as a racing car or dragster)


verb (1)
trapped; trapping

Definition of trap (Entry 2 of 4)

transitive verb

1a : to catch or take in or as if in a trap : entrap
b : to place in a restricted position : confine trapped in the burning wreck
2 : to provide or set (a place) with traps
3a : stop, hold these mountains trap rains and fogs generated over the oceanAmer. Guide Series: Calif.
b : to separate out (something, such as water from steam)
4a : to catch (something, such as a baseball) immediately after a bounce
b : to block out (a defensive football player) by means of a trap
c : to stop and gain control of (a soccer ball) with a part of the body other than the hands or arms

intransitive verb

1 : to engage in trapping animals (as for furs)
2 : to make a defensive trap in basketball


verb (2)
trapped; trapping

Definition of trap (Entry 3 of 4)

transitive verb

: to adorn with or as if with trappings


noun (2)

Definition of trap (Entry 4 of 4)

Other Words from trap

Verb (1)

trapper noun

Choose the Right Synonym for trap

Verb (1)

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

First Known Use of trap

Noun (1)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Verb (2)

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1794, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for trap

Noun (1)

Middle English, from Old English treppe & Anglo-French trape (of Germanic origin); akin to Middle Dutch trappe trap, stair, Old English treppan to tread

Verb (2)

Middle English trappen, from trappe caparison, from Anglo-French trape, probably from Medieval Latin trapus cloth, by-form of Late Latin drappus

Noun (2)

Swedish trapp, from trappa stair, from Middle Low German trappe; akin to Middle Dutch trappe stair

Learn More About trap

Time Traveler for trap

Time Traveler

The first known use of trap was before the 12th century

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Cite this Entry

“Trap.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for trap


\ ˈtrap How to pronounce trap (audio) \

Kids Definition of trap

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a device for catching animals
2 : something by which someone is caught or stopped by surprise Police set a trap for the criminal.
3 : a light one-horse carriage with springs
4 : a device that allows something to pass through but keeps other things out a trap in a drain


trapped; trapping

Kids Definition of trap (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to catch or be caught in a trap Hunters were trapping game. The animal was trapped.
2 : to put or get in a place or position from which escape is not possible Humidity trapped in the hills clung to the mountainside …— Virginia Hamilton, M. C. Higgins the Great

Other Words from trap

trapper noun


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