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[rat-l-trap] /ˈræt lˌtræp/
a shaky, rattling object, as a rickety vehicle.
Origin of rattletrap
First recorded in 1760-70; rattle1 + trap1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for rattletrap
Historical Examples
  • Then followed the sound of a rattletrap of a wagon approaching.

  • When I called it a rattletrap, I merely meant that it was so for a man of my age.

    Barchester Towers

    Anthony Trollope
  • He became a quack poet, and hampered his talents by the imposition of a monstrous parade of rattletrap theories and professions.

    Emerson and Other Essays John Jay Chapman
  • So far as this rattletrap 232 old college is concerned, I dont care a rap about leaving it.

  • In the yard stood the Kettledrum rattletrap, and the owner was right glad to see it.

    Cradock Nowell, Vol. 3 (of 3) Richard Doddridge Blackmore
  • How wretchedly badly off they were in 1870-71 with their rattletrap needle guns.

    The Human Slaughter-House Wilhelm Lamszus
  • Despite Mounseer Roosso's palaver or rattletrap rubbish like Bob's.

  • Jerry-built shanties with rattletrap aircars grounded around them.

    The Cosmic Computer Henry Beam Piper
  • The rattletrap followed the long causeway which crossed the salt-marsh and the San Sebastian River.

    Horace Chase Constance Fenimore Woolson
  • She would never have got into that rattletrap way of talking if she had kept school for two years.

    How To Do It Edward Everett Hale
British Dictionary definitions for rattletrap


(informal) a broken-down old vehicle, esp an old car
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for rattletrap

1766, originally a noun, "knick-knacks, trifles, odds and ends," from rattle (adj.) + trap, perhaps in the sense in traps (n.2). Hence, "a shabby, rattling object," especially a rickety coach or other vehicle (1822). The adjectival sense of "rickety" is recorded from 1834.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for rattletrap



A ramshackle coach or other vehicle, esp an old car (1822+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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