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  1. pretentious but insincere or empty language: His speeches seem erudite but analysis reveals them to be mere claptrap.
  2. any artifice or expedient for winning applause or impressing the public.
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Origin of claptrap

First recorded in 1720–30; clap1 + trap1

Synonyms for claptrap

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for claptrap

bunk, bombast, drivel, nonsense

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British Dictionary definitions for claptrap


noun informal
  1. contrived but foolish talk
  2. insincere and pretentious talkpoliticians' claptrap
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Word Origin for claptrap

C18 (in the sense: something contrived to elicit applause): from clap 1 + trap 1
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

Word Origin and History for claptrap


c.1730, "trick to 'catch' applause," a stage term; from clap (v.) + trap (n.). Extended sense of "cheap, showy language" is from 1819; hence "nonsense, rubbish."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper