Meaning of TRAP in English


I. trap 1 /træp/ BrE AmE noun [countable]

[ Language: Old English ; Origin: træppe , treppe ]

1 . FOR ANIMALS a piece of equipment for catching animals:

The only way to catch mice is to set a trap.

He stepped into a bear trap covered in snow.

⇨ ↑ mousetrap

2 . CLEVER TRICK a clever trick that is used to catch someone or to make them do or say something that they did not intend to

lay/set a trap (for somebody)

Mr Smith has walked straight into a trap laid by the Tories.

fall/walk into a trap

Police had set a trap for hooligans at the match.

3 . BAD SITUATION an unpleasant or difficult situation that is difficult to escape from:

Amanda felt that marriage was a trap.

debt/unemployment etc trap

people caught in the unemployment trap

4 . fall into/avoid the trap of doing something to do something that seems good at the time but is not sensible or wise, or to avoid doing this:

Don’t fall into the trap of investing all your money in one place.

5 . keep your trap shut spoken a rude way of telling someone to not say anything about things that are secret:

Just keep your trap shut.

6 . shut your trap! spoken a rude way of telling someone to stop talking

7 . VEHICLE a vehicle with two wheels, pulled by a horse

8 . SPORT American English ↑ sandtrap SYN bunker British English

9 . DOG RACE a special gate from which a ↑ greyhound is set free at the beginning of a race

⇨ ↑ booby trap , ↑ death trap , ⇨ poverty trap at ↑ poverty (3), ⇨ ↑ speed trap , ↑ tourist trap

II. trap 2 BrE AmE verb ( past tense and past participle trapped , present participle trapping ) [transitive]

1 . IN A DANGEROUS PLACE [usually passive] to prevent someone from escaping from somewhere, especially a dangerous place:

Twenty miners were trapped underground.

Dozens of people were trapped in the rubble when the building collapsed.

There’s no way out! We’re trapped!

2 . IN A BAD SITUATION be/feel trapped to be in a bad situation from which you cannot escape

be/feel trapped in

Julia felt trapped in her role of wife and mother.

3 . ANIMAL to catch an animal or bird using a trap

4 . CATCH SOMEBODY to catch someone by forcing them into a place from which they cannot escape:

The police trapped the terrorists at a roadblock.

5 . TRICK to trick someone so that you make them do or say something that they did not intend to

trap somebody into (doing) something

I was trapped into signing a confession.

6 . CRUSH British English to get a part of your body crushed between two objects SYN pinch American English :

Mind you don’t trap your fingers in the door.

pain from a trapped nerve

7 . GAS/WATER ETC to prevent something such as gas or water from getting away:

solar panels that trap the sun’s heat

• • •


▪ catch to stop someone who is trying to escape, especially by running after them and then holding them:

He raced after her, but he couldn’t catch her.


The police caught the bank robbers after a car chase through the city.

▪ arrest if the police arrest someone, they take him or her to a police station because they think that person has done something illegal:

Wayne was arrested for dangerous driving.


The police arrested him and charged him with murder.

▪ apprehend formal if the police apprehend someone they think has done something illegal, they catch him or her:

The two men were later apprehended after they robbed another store.


The killers were never apprehended.


All of the kidnappers were apprehended and convicted.

▪ capture to catch an enemy or a criminal in order to keep them as a prisoner:

The French king was captured by the English at the battle of Poitiers in 1356.


The gunmen were finally captured after a shoot-out with the police.

▪ take somebody prisoner to catch someone, especially in a war, in order to keep them as a prisoner:

350 soldiers were killed and another 300 taken prisoner.


Ellison was taken prisoner by the Germans during the retreat to Dunkirk.

▪ trap to make someone go to a place from which they cannot escape, especially by using your skill and intelligence:

Police trapped the man inside a bar on the city’s southside.

▪ corner to force someone into a place from which they cannot escape:

He was cornered outside the school by three gang members.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.