A trap is a device or tactic intended to harm, capture, detect, or inconvenience a human or animal intruder, or animal pest or game. Traps may be physical objects, such as cages or snares, or metaphorical concepts.

Physical traps

Examples of physical traps include:

Metaphorical traps

Examples of metaphorical or conceptual traps include:

  • Canary trap, a method for exposing an information leak
  • High level equilibrium trap, a concept used to explain why China never underwent an indigenous Industrial Revolution
  • Honey trap, a form of sting operation in law enforcement
  • Liquidity trap, a concept in economics involving a stagnant economy and low interest rates
  • Speed trap, a tactic designed to catch speed limit violators; it may also refer to a place where such a tactic is commonly used
  • Verbal trap, a statement or question phrased in such a way that any valid response would imply something the responder does not intend. See also Trick question
  • Welfare trap, a phenomenon by which social policies interact to keep people dependent on welfare; related concepts include the unemployment trap and poverty trap
  • Chemical trap, a chemical compound responsible for capturing an elusive molecule.

Other meanings

Other meanings of the word trap include:

  • "To fall for the trap," meaning to have your initial plan or goal be disrupted by an obstacle or "trap"
  • In urban/hip hop culture a trap refers to a trap house: a place where drugs are sold; a trap can be an area or neighborhood dominated by a drug economy and culture.
  • In bodybuilding, a nickname for the trapezius muscle
  • In biochemistry, TRAP is an abbreviation for tartrate resistant acid phosphatase
  • In computing and operating systems, a trap is a programming code or signal designed to capture errors and reveal where they are. More specifically, a processor-generated exception, usually resulting in a switch into kernel mode
  • In electronics, a filter used to block a range of frequencies
  • Traps, a common name for elevated topographic features made out of basalt, an igneous rock
  • Traprock, a common name for basalt, an igneous rock
  • In geology, a rock formation in which water, salt or hydrocarbons may collect
  • In horseriding, a device which attaches a carriage to a pony
  • In role-playing games, a type of obstacle often used in dungeons
  • In anime culture, a male crossdresser whose cross-dressing is so convincing that he is often mistaken for a real girl.
  • In the narcotics industry, an area where drugs are bought and sold in an open-air street market. People who are major drug dealers in a trap are known as "Trap Stars"
  • Trap (plumbing), a U-shaped pipe located below a drain; also called a water seal
  • Trap (poker), a poker strategy
  • In color printing, where inks of different colours have been overlapped to mask registration problems. The process is called spreading and choking
  • Also in color printing, when one ink dries too much, which stops the following colors being absorbed into the paper. It leaves a mottled effect.
  • In shooting sports, the activity of trap shooting, a clay target shooting sport; also, specifically the Olympic Trap event; also, the device which launches the clays
  • In relationships, a member who manages to ensnare the other, through emotional or sexual manipulation, so as to prevent them from ending the relationship.
  • Trap (carriage),
    • a light two- or four-wheeled horse-drawn carriage
    • a similar early automobile
  • A meme from the internet describing a man who is intending to look like an attractive woman or a pre-op male to female transsexual. Females crossdressing as males or pre-op female to male transsexuals are often referred to as reverse traps.
  • A trap room, part of a theater.
  • In naval aviation, a trap is a shipboard arrested landing.

Related terms

In American Football

  • Trap Play A Trap play in American Football is an offensive play where the ball is carried up either side of the center of the Line of Scrimmage. It differs from a Dive play in that the onside, or playside, guard moves out of the way and the offside, or side of the line that the play isn't going to, crosses behind the center and blindsides the defensive tackle that comes through the gap. This play works especially well when the opposing defensive line has considerable size on the offensive line.

Place names


  • Trap, nickname for Giovanni Trapattoni, Italian soccer manager.

See also

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