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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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for rattletrap
Historical Examples
  • When I called it a rattletrap, I merely meant that it was so for a man of my age.

    Barchester Towers Anthony Trollope
  • So far as this rattletrap 232 old college is concerned, I dont care a rap about leaving it.

  • Then followed the sound of a rattletrap of a wagon approaching.

  • How wretchedly badly off they were in 1870-71 with their rattletrap needle guns.

    The Human Slaughter-House Wilhelm Lamszus
  • In the first place, it isn't a house—it's a rattletrap; and in the second place, he won't know a thing about it.

    Affinities and Other Stories Mary Roberts Rinehard
  • The rattletrap followed the long causeway which crossed the salt-marsh and the San Sebastian River.

    Horace Chase Constance Fenimore Woolson
  • The next morning the condition of the tempers of the crew of the rattletrap was reversed.

  • They went out through the doors of the waiting room toward a rattletrap vehicle.

    Badge of Infamy Lester del Rey
  • The medics were injecting a heart stimulant into him and he was vibrating like a rattletrap car racing over a gravel road.

    The Old Die Rich Horace Leonard Gold
  • The rattletrap itself had tried to run before the gale, but I had put on the brake and stopped it.

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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