Green’s Dictionary of Slang

rattletrap n.

1. with ref. to speech [trap n.1 (5)].

(a) the mouth.

[Scot](con. 17C) W. Scott Redgauntlet (1827) 304: Shut your rattle-trap, you broth of a -----!
[UK]Sl. Dict.
[Aus]C. Crowe Aus. Sl. Dict. 65: Rattle-trap, the mouth.

(b) a gossip, a chatterer.

[US]‘Andrew Barton’ Disappointment I i: I wonder what detains Jack Rattletrap.
Newry Teleg. 24 Nov. 4/1: ‘Lady Rattletrap was saying to me [...] that you were handosmer than ever’ .
[UK]W.S. Gilbert Engaged in London Assurance and other Victorian Comedies (2001) Act III: He is an entertaining rattlesnake – I should say rattletrap.
Life in a Debtor’s Prison 180: You’re as great a rattletrap as ever [F&H].
[US]M.G. Hayden ‘Terms Of Disparagement’ in DN IV:iii 210: rattle-trap, a loquacious person.
[US]Wood & Goddard Dict. Amer. Sl.
[UK]C. Stead Cotters’ England (1980) 48: She’s married [...] Anthony, a man with a rattletrap tongue and no stuffing.

2. in senses of physical collapse.

(a) anything run-down, dishevelled.

[[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: rattle traps a contemptuous name for any curious portable piece of machinery, or philosophical apparatus].
[UK]G.A. Sala Quite Alone III 172: His shabby little rattletrap of a place ain’t good enough for you.
[US]Butler Wkly Times (MO) 13 June 8/3: We have visited [...] our jail. [...] It is an old rattletrap not fit to keep .
[US]Eve. Bull. (Maysville, KY) 22 Feb. 3/3: Maysville deserves something better than the old barn-like rattletrap of a structure.
[US]Day Bk (Chicago) 17 Sept. 8/1: Chicago police jails are rattle-traps [...] grayback lice are running over the walls.
[Scot]Aberdeen Jrnl 4 Nov. 6/4: It is pretty hopeless to set a youngster to practise on any rattletrap of a piano.

(b) (also clap-trap, trap) a run-down vehicle or other form of transport.

Bristol Mirror 31 Dec. 3/4: The Rattletraps! [...] Well! Forty coaches in the City of Bristol, and not one what it ought to be!
[UK]Morn. Advertiser (London) 4 Feb. 3/3: Joe Fishwicke [...] paraded his splendid Fancy rattle-traps.
[Ire]Warder & Dublin Wkly Mail 14 Mar. 3/2: The road [...] is one string of all descriptions of vehicles, from the coach and four, to the humblest ‘rattle-trap’.
[UK]Leics. Mercury 18 Aug. 4/2: The steamboat Knoxville burst her boilers [...] We know the boat. she was a mere rattle-trap.
[UK]Hereford Times 24 Nov. 8/3: Then followed such urrying and driving, and packing up of gambling rattle-traps.
[US]H.L. Williams N.-Y. After Dark 21: Bad pavement for a rattle-trap.
[US] letter 4 Oct. in T. Hughes Gone To Texas (1884) 9: W— took me to the yard where his ‘buggy’ was. It is the oddest old rattletrap I ever saw.
[US]Sedalia Wkly Bazoo (MO) 1 Feb. 4/5: Shall the people go o and patch up the old rattle traps?
[UK]Coventry Herald 15 Jan. 3/3: So the lumbering four-wheel rattle-trap has been going out of fashion.
[US]F.H. Carruth Voyage of the Rattletrap 4: The Rattletrap was—namely, a ‘prairie schooner’.
[NZ]Otago Witness (NZ) 24 May 82/4: Our old wagonette was patched from end to end [...] and there was enough wire aboout the old rattletrap to fence in an ordinary selection.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 12 June 2nd sect. 9/1: They Say [...] That the recent midnight motor-car smashes should teach a lesson to hurrying hogs. That the old rattletrap that caused the cataclysm is only fit for a museum.
[UK]Tamworth Herald 7 May 3/2: A gentleman [...] on a wooden rattle-trap [i.e. a primitive bicycle] must have brought a smile to the lips of the demurest maiden.
[Aus]Sport (Adelaide) 23 Oct. 5/1: That rattle traps [sic] of yours [...] so called a motor bike.
[UK]‘Taffrail’ Sub 242: The perishin’ old rattle-trap [i.e. a destroyer] doesn’t seem to be able to hit us.
[US](con. 1900s) F. Riesenberg Log of the Sea 140: Lots of men have bumped the beach, but how many have had the supreme excitement of tooling a dirty old rattle-trap against rocks?
P.C. Wren Uniform of Glory 142: He curtly ordered [...] a carriage — and no [...] rattletrap but one of the sort used by Officers.
[Aus]Aus. Women’s Wkly 8 July 24/2: Plenty of people who’d be ashamed to be seen in that poor, but honest rattletrap.
[Aus]D. Niland Call Me When the Cross Turns Over (1958) 136: He wants the tenner to get the old rattletrap out of the garage.
[Aus]F.J. Hardy Legends from Benson’s Valley 189: Flash cars never stop [...] Old rattle-traps and trucks will stop.
[Aus]D. O’Grady A Bottle of Sandwiches 74: The radiator and bonnet were ’29 Chev. But the rest of the old clap-trap was anybody’s guess.
[UK]B. Beckham My Main Mother 132: Look at you! Driving an old raggedy-ass station wagon [...] Now, get this trap out of here!
[US]E. Bunker Little Boy Blue (1995) 282: It was stupid to be cruising around in such a rattletrap with guns.
[NZ] McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl.

3. a form of club used by a poacher [? SE rattle + trap n.1 (3)].

[UK]Bury & Norwich Post 24 Dec. 2/5: The poachers took out of their pockets their rattle-traps (instruments made similar to the flail,) with these they knocked down the keepers [...] and one of them had his leg broken.