a device for catching rats.
a run-down, filthy, or dilapidated place.
a difficult, involved, or entangling situation.

Origin of rattrap

1425–75; late Middle English. See rat, trap1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for rat-trap

Historical Examples of rat-trap

  • In it lay the deceased lady with her long slit of a mouth shut like a rat-trap, and her hard eyes fixed on him.

    A Book of Ghosts

    Sabine Baring-Gould

  • The rat-trap contained two large rats; one of these she turned into a coachman, and the other into a postilion.



  • Its nothing but a rat-trap but how I shall hate to see it go!

    Maida's Little Shop

    Inez Haynes Irwin

  • Under his arm he carried a small iron-cage, patterned something like a rat-trap.

    Parrot & Co.

    Harold MacGrath

  • Saying this, he plunged his hand into one of his pockets, and produced a pair of handcuffs, like a rat-trap.

British Dictionary definitions for rat-trap



a device for catching rats
informal a type of bicycle pedal having serrated steel foot pads and a toe clip
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 rat-trap

late 15c., from rat (n.) + trap (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper