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mousetrap

[mous-trap]
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noun
  1. a trap for mice, especially one consisting of a rectangular wooden base on which a metal spring is mounted.
  2. a device, machine, or the like whose structure or function suggests a trap for mice.
  3. a device, system, or stratagem for detecting and catching someone in an unauthorized or illegal act.
  4. Football. trap1(def 11).
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verb (used with object), mouse·trapped, mouse·trap·ping.
  1. Informal.
    1. to trap or snare: traffic cops mousetrapping drunken drivers.
    2. to manipulate by devious or clever means; trick or outwit: to mousetrap the witness into a contradiction.
  2. Football. trap1(def 20).
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Idioms
  1. build a better mousetrap, to make or offer a superior product.
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Origin of mousetrap

First recorded in 1400–50, mousetrap is from the late Middle English word mous trappe. See mouse, trap1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for mousetrap

mousetrap

noun
  1. any trap for catching mice, esp one with a spring-loaded metal bar that is released by the taking of the bait
  2. British informal cheese of indifferent quality
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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 mousetrap

n.

late 15c., from mouse (n.) + trap (n.). Figurative use from 1570s. The thing is older than the word. Old English had musfealle; Middle English had mouscacche (late 14c.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper