A trap is something you can’t get out of. If a critter is nibbling at your cherry tomato plants, set a trap to catch the thief. (But if it turns out to be your little brother, set him free!)

If a TV character yells, "Look out! It's a trap!" they're dramatically warning someone about an imminent surprise attack or mean-spirited trick. Other kinds of traps include a plumbing trap, a curved pipe that traps liquid in it so that gases can't rise up into your sink, and a sand trap, the tricky hollow where your ball gets stuck on a golf course. The Germanic root word of trap literally means "that onto which one steps."

Definitions of trap
  1. noun
    a device in which something (usually an animal) can be caught and penned
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    a trap for catching flies
    lobster pot
    trap for catching lobsters
    a trap for catching trespassers
    a trap for catching mice
    a trap made of netting to catch fish or birds or insects
    pit, pitfall
    a trap in the form of a concealed hole
    pound net
    trap consisting of an arrangement of nets directing fish into an enclosure
    a trap for catching rats
    gin, noose, snare
    a trap for birds or small mammals; often has a slip noose
    steel trap
    a trap made of steel with a strong spring and sharp toothlike projections to hold the prey
    entanglement, web
    an intricate trap that entangles or ensnares its victim
    a small net used to draw fish into a boat
    fishing net, fishnet
    a net that will enclose fish when it is pulled in
    spider web, spider's web
    a web resembling the webs spun by spiders
    type of:
    an instrumentality invented for a particular purpose
  2. noun
    drain consisting of a U-shaped section of drainpipe that holds liquid and so prevents a return flow of sewer gas
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    type of:
    drain, drainpipe, waste pipe
    a pipe through which liquid is carried away
  3. verb
    catch in or as if in a trap
    “The men trap foxes”
    synonyms: ensnare, entrap, snare, trammel
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    trap with a snare
    type of:
    capture, catch
    capture as if by hunting, snaring, or trapping
  4. verb
    to hold fast or prevent from moving
    synonyms: immobilise, immobilize, pin
  5. verb
    hold or catch as if in a trap
    “The gaps between the teeth trap food particles”
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    type of:
    hold, take hold
    have or hold in one's hands or grip
  6. noun
    something (often something deceptively attractive) that catches you unawares
    “the exam was full of trap questions”
    synonyms: snare
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    iron trap
    a trap from which there is no escape
    speed trap
    a trap arranged on a roadway for catching speeders
    type of:
    design, plan
    an arrangement scheme
  7. noun
    the act of concealing yourself and lying in wait to attack by surprise
    synonyms: ambuscade, ambush, lying in wait
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    the act of killing from ambush
    type of:
    coup de main, surprise attack
    an attack without warning
  8. noun
    a hazard on a golf course
    synonyms: bunker, sand trap
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    type of:
    an obstacle on a golf course
  9. verb
    place in a confining or embarrassing position
    “He was trapped in a difficult situation”
    synonyms: pin down
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    type of:
    confine, detain
    deprive of freedom; take into confinement
  10. noun
    a device to hurl clay pigeons into the air for trapshooters
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    type of:
    mechanical device
    mechanism consisting of a device that works on mechanical principles
  11. noun
    informal terms for the mouth
    synonyms: cakehole, gob, hole, maw, yap
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    type of:
    mouth, oral cavity, oral fissure, rima oris
    the opening through which food is taken in and vocalizations emerge
  12. noun
    a light two-wheeled carriage
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    type of:
    carriage, equipage, rig
    a vehicle with wheels drawn by one or more horses
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