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).
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).
Idioms
  1. build a better mousetrap, to make or offer a superior product.

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
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.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper