a shaky, rattling object, as a rickety vehicle.

Origin of rattletrap

First recorded in 1760–70; rattle1 + trap1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for rattletrap

makeshift, rickety, unsound, unstable

Examples from the Web for rattletrap

Historical Examples of rattletrap

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

  • When I called it a rattletrap, I merely meant that it was so for a man of my age.

    Barchester Towers

    Anthony Trollope

  • He became a quack poet, and hampered his talents by the imposition of a monstrous parade of rattletrap theories and professions.

    Emerson and Other Essays

    John Jay Chapman

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

  • In the yard stood the Kettledrum rattletrap, and the owner was right glad to see it.

    Cradock Nowell, Vol. 3 (of 3)

    Richard Doddridge Blackmore

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

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