General English

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  • A plumbing fixture so constructed that, when installed in a system, a water seal will form and prevent backflow of air or gas, but permit free flow of liquids.
  • A removable section of stage floor. See also traprock.


  • That which serves to catch, deflect, or otherwise separate energy, particles, waves, signals, signal components, or the like. For example, and ion trap, or a sound trap.
  • An entity or mechanism in a semiconductor which serves to capture electrons, or an impurity or lattice defect which cancels holes.
  • A resonant circuit which is connected in series or in parallel with an antenna receiving system to help suppress unwanted signals at a given frequency. Also called wave trap.
  • A mechanism or program which detects specified computer actions, processes, or conditions, such as those resulting in errors.


  • noun a deception or trick which leads someone into a dangerous situation from which there is no escape
  • noun
    (written as TRAP)
    a mission to recover an aircraft and its crew, after it has been shot down or crashed in enemy territory.
  • verb to place a person in a dangerous situation from which there is no escape
  • acronym fortactical recovery of aircraft and personnel
    (written as TRAP)


  • An opening cut into the stage floor or scenery to allow actorsto appear suddenly and dramatically on stage. They were often usedfor the entrances and exits of ghosts in 19th-century melodrama. Thedevice made English actors internationally renowned for their trickwork.Traps are also used to raise and lower stage equipment and for rapidscenery changes in pantomime.

    Traps became established in the English theater in the late17th century, the Drury Lane stage having several. It was not untilthe 19th century, however, that the slote and the cornertrap became favourite devices for moving actors quickly on or offstage.

    Particular kinds of trap were often named after a play orscene. The long narrow Corsican trap (a type of ghostglide) was devised to make a ghost appear to float across thestage in Boucicault's The Corsican Brothers (1852). The vamptrap, an opening with spring-leaves used to create the impressionof an actor passing through a solid wall, was first used in the melodramaThe Vampire (1820). The cauldron trap was named afterits use in the witches' scene in Macbeth, and the gravetrap after the gravediggers' scene in Hamlet.

    Other traps included the star trap, which openedin the shape of a star, and the bristle trap, an openingcovered with flexible bristles. The footlights trap, a longopening in front of the curtain, was used to lower lamps into thecellar, either to darken the stage or so that they could be trimmed.

    Traps could be a source of considerable danger to performers.During one scene in The Fire Worshippers, a melodrama presentedat the Surrey Theatre, an actor was required to ride across the stageon a live camel. Unfortunately the animal's weight released a trapdoorand, although the actor leaped safely away, the camel fell throughand broke its neck. The play proceeded as workmen cut the dead animalout piecemeal from below.

    The casualty rate among pantomime stars was especially great.When the great clown Grimaldi was shot up through a trapone night in Manchester the ropes on the counterweight broke and hetumbled back into the cellar. Stunned and in dreadful pain, he completedthe scene. When the company reached Liverpool, Grimaldi got a pledgefrom the master carpenter that the accident would not be repeated.However, just as his head appeared above stage to great applause,the ropes again snapped, dropping the clown into the machinery below.

Origin & History of “trap”

The precise origins of trap are obscure. It goes back to an Old English træppe, and it has various relatives in the modern Germanic and romance languages – Flemish trape, French trappe, Portuguese trapa, for instance – but its ultimate ancestry has never been unravelled. Its application to a small carriage emerged in the 19th century; it may be short for rattle-trap ‘rickety vehicle’.