Green’s Dictionary of Slang

trap n.1

1. trickery, fraud; usu. as understand trap ; up to trap

implied in understand trap
[UK]R. North Examen 549: Some cunning Persons, that had found out his Foible, and Ignorance of Trap, first put him in great Fright.

2. one who blackmails a prostitute’s client.

[UK]C. Hitchin Regulator 21: Martin’s Brandy shop [...] is used by the Traps Buttocks and Files, the Man himself goes on the Trap.
[UK]A. Smith Lives of Most Notorious Highway-men, etc. (1926).
[UK]Thief-Catcher 22: There is another Set of Rogues, in and about London, known and distinguished by the Name of Trapps.
[UK](con. 1710–25) Tyburn Chronicle II in Groom (1999) xxviii: A Trap He that after a Buttock and file, has bit a Cull of his Pocket-Book, makes it his Business to find out where the Man lives, and extort Money from him to prevent his being exposed.
[UK]‘An Amateur’ Real Life in London I 45: He found himself considerably in debt, and was compelled to seek refuge in an obscure lodging, somewhere in the neighbourhood of Kilburn, in order to avoid the traps.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict. 5: Beau traps – genteel dressed sharpers, fortune hunters.

3. (also trapsman) usu. in pl., a policeman or similar agent of the law [metonymy].

[UK]N. Ward Hudibras Redivivus I:4 8: All girt with Chaps, men, Boys and Women, / Traps, Divers, Punks, and Serjeants, Yeomen.
[UK]G. Parker View of Society II 148: It is very common to hear them say, that the Traps are after Such-a-one.
[UK] ‘Mount’s Flash Song Upon Himself’ in Confessions of Thomas Mount 22: I was surrounded by the traps, / And to the quod they did me steer.
[UK] ‘The Blue Lion’ in Holloway & Black I (1975) 32: Into his room the Traps they come.
[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang.
[UK]‘One of the Fancy’ Tom Crib’s Memorial to Congress xxvi: As a means of eluding the vigilance of a certain class of persons, called flashice, Traps, or in common language, Bow-street-Officers.
[UK]‘An Amateur’ Real Life in London I 550: Why, the traps have nibbled him. He is arrested, and gone to a lock-up shop, a place of mere accommodation for gentlemen to take up their abode.
[UK] ‘The Slap-Up Cracksman’ Swell!!! or, Slap-Up Chaunter 42: The traps are snoozed – so we can swig / Without fear of touch or pig.
[UK]‘Cock-Eyed Sukey’ in Cove in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) IV 219: Tho’ trapsmen roar, yet free from harms, / William shall sneak home to his punk.
[UK]J. Lindridge Sixteen-String Jack 107: Are we to have the blessed traps on our heels before we start?
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 1 Feb 3/3: Mary [...] transferred her anger on the instant to the ‘trap,’ on whose countenance she planted her ‘bunch of fives’.
[UK]A. Mayhew Paved with Gold 252: I know every d—d ‘trap’ — that’s a constable — in the place.
[UK]J. Greenwood Seven Curses of London 86: They can discover the detective in his innocent-looking smock-frock or bricklayer jacket. [...] They know him by his step, or by his clumsy affectation of unofficial loutishness. They recognise the stiff neck in the loose neckerchief. They smell ‘trap,’ and are superior to it.
[US]W.H. Thomes Bushrangers 21: The bushrangers can kill and rob, and nothing is done towards rooting them out. They don’t care for us ‘traps,’ and laugh if we talk of hunting them.
[Aus]J.S. Borlase Blue Cap, the Bushranger 4/2: I’ll steer him clear of trap, judge and Jack Ketch, too.
[Aus]‘Rolf Boldrewood’ Robbery Under Arms (1922) 2: .Our ‘bush telegraphs’ were safe to let us know when the ‘traps’ were closing in on us.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 23 Aug. 19/2: For my pockets now were empty, so ’twas entered on the sheet / By the trap who found me lying in a stupor on his beat.
[Aus]‘Rolf Boldrewood’ In Bad Company 250: D--n you and the pleece too! A pore man gets no show between the traps and squatters in this bloomin’ country.
[NZ]N.Z. Truth 22 jan. 7/1: Trap Roach told his version first [...] The trap looked through the window and saw Mackay and McIndoe bending over something.
[Aus]L. Stone Jonah 32: The police, variously named ‘Johns, cops, and traps’ were the natural enemies.
[UK](con. 1835–40) P. Herring Bold Bendigo 109: We don’t want any of the traps in here.
[Aus]‘Banjo’ Paterson Shearer’s Colt 27: If she thinks that you and me are just a shearer and a trap [policeman] she’ll tell us to come into the kitchen for our grub.
[Aus]Baker Aus. Lang. 95: It was a natural development that police troopers should come to be called joes [...] although this use is not found often, demons and traps (1853) being more widely used.
[Aus]D. Stivens Jimmy Brockett 94: Then the traps came along and got stuck into us with their batons.
[US]M. Braly Shake Him Till He Rattles (1964) 42: How’d you slip that trap?
[Aus]G.A. Wilkes Exploring Aus. Eng. 13: One enterprising convict, James Hardy Vaux, put together a vocabulary of the criminal slang of the colony – the ‘flash’ language – in 1812. His list includes [...] shake in the sense of ‘steal’, lag for a convict and trap for policeman.
[Aus]Tupper & Wortley Aus. Prison Sl. Gloss. [Internet] Trap. 2. A policeman, especially a mounted policeman.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Leaving Bondi (2013) [ebook] ‘Everybody around the traps is going to know who it is’.

4. attrib. use of sense 3.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 30 July 14/2: Late that night Ratto Parker chucked me th’ w’isper that th’ fancy was up at the trap-stronghold, sighin’ f’r ’er ’ero t’ bump along with a five-quid bail ’n’ freedim.

5. the mouth; esp. in phrs. keep one’s trap shut , shut one’s trap [it is a ‘trap’ for food, often used in combs., e.g. bread trap under bread n.1 , meat trap under meat n.].

implied in shut one’s trap
[US]J. O’Connor Wanderings of a Vagabond 295: Don’t let me hear any more wind from that trap o’ yourn, or I’ll bust it.
[US]Times-Democrat (New Orleans, LA) 9 July 3/6: Prize Ring Slang [...] ‘kisser,’ ‘grubber,’ ‘trap,’ ‘whistler,’ ‘ivory-box,’ the mouth.
[UK]Marvel 15 May 15: One of the sailors [...] after a few minutes’ rubbing managed to loosen their talking-traps.
[US]F. Packard Adventures of Jimmie Dale (1918) I ii: You two ginks open your traps, and I’ll run you both in!
[US]S. Ornitz Haunch Paunch and Jowl 261: Don’t open your trap till they have talked themselves out.
[US]J. Lait Put on the Spot 18: If you open that kissy trap o’ your’n, I’ll run you into the lake.
[US](con. 1910s) J.T. Farrell Young Lonigan in Studs Lonigan (1936) 66 : You better clamp that trap of yours tight!
[US]R.L. Bellem ‘Sleeping Dogs’ in Spicy Detective Sept. [Internet] She was afraid I’d open my trap and spill my guts about the blackmail stuff.
[US]H. Miller Tropic of Capricorn (1964) 35: Still he didn’t know enough to hold his trap.
[UK] ‘The Heavy Bombers’ in C.H. Ward-Jackson Airman’s Song Book (1945) 144: They ask you for your flimsies, your pass and target maps, / You take the ruddy issue and stuff it down their traps.
[US]W. Guthrie Bound for Glory (1969) 84: Hush your trap!
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 301: He lies every time he opens his trap.
[US]C. Cooper Jr Scene (1996) 225: You keep that trap of yours going and you’re going to be in real hot water.
[Aus]W. Dick Bunch of Ratbags 236: I could have killed him for saying that. He always opened his trap at the wrong time.
[US]G.V. Higgins Digger’s Game (1981) 45: Now you got that trap of yours working every minute.
[UK]Sun. Times Mag. 12 Oct. 82: The best thing I’ve learnt is not to open my trap about things I know nothing about.
[US]Mad mag. Jan. 40: The controversial right-wing yakker opened up his big fat trap.
Stormzy ‘Scary’ [lyrics] Should’ve thought twice before you opened your trap.

6. a place, a house or apartment.

[US]H.C. Witwer Fighting Blood 240: Rags and his dizzy pals used to hang out in this trap.
[US]D. Runyon Runyon à la Carte 22: [of a hotel] Marie is strictly the boss of the trap.
[US]W. Burroughs Naked Lunch (1968) 140: [of a flat] We go up to her trap.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 89: I walked with him through the door of the craps trap.
[US](con. 1970) J.M. Del Vecchio 13th Valley (1983) 241: ‘This is a filthy trap.’ [...] There wasn’t even a shower in the bath.
[Aus]B. Humphries Traveller’s Tool 19: All I can say is that I’ve knocked around the traps.

7. (US tramp) a hiding-place for liquor or other illegal goods.

[US]Irwin Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 191: Trap. – A place of concealment for liquor or other contraband, especially in the body of an automobile or truck or in the hull of a boat.
[US]Ragen & Finston World’s Toughest Prison 822: trap – A place of concealment.

8. (US) a nightclub.

[US]A.J. Liebling ‘The Jollity Building’ in Just Enough Liebling (2004) 248: I booked a man with a trained dog into one trap in Astoria.
[US]D. Runyon Runyon à la Carte 78: She takes to visiting this same Canary Club and similar traps.
[US]B. Schulberg On the Waterfront (1964) 60: He could spread money on the bar in a dozen traps and be a big man among cronies and freeloaders.
[US]C. Stroud Close Pursuit (1988) 105: An older white couple [...] coming out of that dago trap called Mamma Leone’s.
Chief Keef ‘Cappin’ [lyrics] Trap house bumpin’ like he dancin' with Kemo.

9. (US black) the military draft during WWII.

[US] ‘Jiver’s Bible’ in D. Burley Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive.

10. (drugs) a hiding place for drugs.

[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]R.R. Lingeman Drugs from A to Z (1970).
[US]E.E. Landy Underground Dict. (1972).
[US]ONDCP Street Terms 21: Trap — Hiding place for drugs.
[US]D. Winslow The Force [ebook] La caja—the trap—a large hole carved into the wall, is open. Stacked, floor to ceiling, with bricks of heroin.

11. the vagina.

‘Troy Conway’ Cunning Linguist (1973) 131: Her trap remained ungreased, unopened all the way and - unhappy.
[US]‘Randy Everhard’ Tattoo of a Naked Lady 64: I pushed her down on her back and slid into her trap.

12. a cubicle or stall in a public lavatory.

[US]J. Wambaugh Choirboys (1976) 232: You’re in the trap, peeking through the screen and some dude walks in the john.

13. (US black) the number of customers a prostitute is assigned as a daily tally by her pimp to reach a financial target; thus the many she earns each night[i.e. those whom she SE traps].

[US]D. Goines Street Players 33: She’ll end up bullshitting the rest of the night because she’ll think she done made enough for her night’s trap.
[US]A.K. Shulman On the Stroll 110: For the first time in the week since she’d been hooking she hadn’t made her trap.
[US]Ice-T ‘Pimp or Die’ [lyrics] Smack the fucking hoe unconscious if my trap ain’t fat.

14. (US black) money.

Kool G Rap & DJ Polo ‘Live & Let Die’ [lyrics] I waits to start packin the trap back in the suitcase.
[US]Busta Rhymes ‘Street Shit’ [lyrics] Ain’t no mistakin, we takin your trap.
Raekwon ‘Cold Outside’ [lyrics] Heads get clapped for trap, don’t fuck with my mind, I’m strapped.
J. Robinson Gospel of the Game 21: Two muscular blonde detectives [...] greedily counted a young renegade whore’s trap.

15. (UK/US black / drugs) a place where drugs are dealt.

Goodie Mob ‘Thought Process’ [lyrics] Folks that hang with me when I was out in the trap.
Lil’ Flip & Z-Ro ‘Remember Me’ [lyrics] The rats looking for cheese, that’s why we call it the trap.
C-Note ‘Still Push’n’ [lyrics] All night in the trap, whipping bricks and bagging packs.
[US]T.I. ‘Check This Dig That’ [lyrics] Stackin pape when I rap, shit get flipped, and I’m back to the trap.
67 ‘Live Corn’ [lyrics] 674’s tryna get rich in those traps.

16. see wolf-trap under wolf n.

In phrases

keep one’s trap shut (v.) (also keep one’s trap closed)

to be quiet.

[UK]Star of Hope 12 Aug. 1/1: Why in h— don’t those recruits [...] keep their traps shut? [OED].
[UK]A. Binstead More Gal’s Gossip 59: I [...] should ‘pull through if only I kept my fly-trap shut.’.
[US]K. McGaffey Sorrows of a Show Girl Ch. xviii: Give them a pike at the inside of the show business so that they would either keep their trap shut or know what they are talking about.
[US]Van Loan ‘For the Pictures’ in Taking the Count 334: If you want to get out of this place alive you’ll keep your trap shut.
[US]Van Loan ‘His Own Stuff’ in Score by Innings (2004) 388: Shut up! [...] You keep your trap closed.
[US]M. West Pleasure Man (1997) II i: From now on you keep your trap shut about this.
[US](con. 1920s) J.T. Farrell Young Manhood in Studs Lonigan (1936) 263: Say, keep your trap shut.
[US]‘Boxcar Bertha’ Sister of the Road (1975) 33: Keep your traps closed and your legs crossed.
[US]J. Weidman What’s In It For Me? 261: That’s for your memory and for keeping your trap shut.
[UK]P. Pringle Boy’s Book of Cricket 96: Then, [...] keep thy silly trap shoot. The game’s nowt to do wi’ thee.
[US]M. Spillane Long Wait (1954) 81: Now sit down and keep your trap closed.
[UK]J. Curtis Look Long Upon a Monkey 29: You’re a bloke as can keep his trap shut.
[Ire]P. Boyle At Night All Cats Are Grey 65: He was hardly likely to keep his trap shut about Kreuger’s.
[US]D. Goines Inner City Hoodlum 198: If you keep that trap of yours shut, we’ll nail you on a conspiracy charge.
[UK](con. 1950s–60s) in G. Tremlett Little Legs 125: You told them what you were planning, and then kept your trap shut.
[UK]M. Dibdin Dying of the Light 41: Just as long as you keep your trap shut.
[UK]A. Sillitoe Birthday 50: It was always best to keep your trap shut, only let people know what you wanted them to know.
[Aus] A. McKinty ‘The Dutch Book’ in Crime Factory: Hard Labour [ebook] Low profile, Mikey-boy. Remember you gotta keep that trap shut.
shoot (off) one’s trap (v.) [shoot v. (4c) ]

to talk injudiciously, to boast.

[US]M. Bodenheim Georgie May 87: Do it then and stop shooting youah trap.
[UK]P. Cheyney Don’t Get Me Wrong (1956) 9: I am wonderin’ if he is easin’ through that side door to go shootin’ off his trap to the fat boss.
[US]I. Shulman Amboy Dukes 80: I’m worried about you shooting off your big trap.
[US]‘Ed Lacy’ Room to Swing 151: He’d love to shoot off his trap in front of her.
shut one’s trap (v.) (also close one’s trap)

to be quiet; usu. as imper. shut your trap!

E. Gibbon letter 19 Dec. in Autobiographies (1896) I 298: You may say in general in the family (if any should bark) that you are satisfied with my conduct, and order them to shut their trap .
[UK]J.T. Staton Rays fro’ Loominary 90: Shut thy trap, fayther [EDD].
[US]S. Crane in N.Y. Press 6 Jan. in Stallman (1966) 126: Close that trap now, or I’ll put’che off!
[US]N.-Y. American 12 Sept. in Fleming Unforgettable Season (1981) 218: There was an air of ‘Don’t try to repeat!’ [...] that made Frederick close his trap.
[UK]Gem 23 Jan. 28: Well, then shut your bully-beef trap.
[US]Mansfield (OH) News 7 Dec. 10(?)/3: Only pie-trimmers and hash-slingers would ever condescend to come across with such rough stuff as ‘Aw, nix on that,’ ‘Cheese it,’ and ‘Shut your trap.’.
[US]F. Packard Adventures of Jimmie Dale (1918) I v: ‘Close yer trap, Mose!’ came a fierce response.
[US]F. Packard White Moll 176: Youse close yer trap, an’ let Pinkie talk!
[UK]Wodehouse Leave it to Psmith (1993) 594: Ed [...] shut your trap!
[US]Dos Passos Manhattan Transfer 239: Shut yer traps both of ye, always cursing and fightin round the house.
[UK](con. WW1) P. MacDonald Patrol 51: ‘Close that belching trap of yours, J.C.!’.
[US](con. 1920s) J.T. Farrell Young Manhood in Studs Lonigan (1936) 287: If you don’t close that trap of yours, I will.
[US]R. Chandler Big Sleep 83: Shut your trap and keep it shut.
[US]W. Pegler George Spelvin Chats 154: You shut your dumb Dutch trap—.
[UK](con. 1912) B. Marshall George Brown’s Schooldays 93: Shut your rotten trap and don’t talk as if you had a roast potato in your mouth.
[UK]J. Sandford Whelks and the Chromium (1968) 113: Oh, shut your trap!
[UK]E. Bond Saved Scene vi: Listen, mate, shut yer trap an’ give us a snout.
[US]O. Hawkins Ghetto Sketches 36: ‘Shut your trap,’ he screams.
[Aus]J. Davis Dreamers 75: Shut yer trap both of yer.
[US]Dr Dre ‘The Next Episode’ [lyrics] And if yo’ ass get cracked, bitch shut yo’ trap.
[US]T. Fontana ‘Orpheus Descending’ Oz ser. 4 ep. 14 [TV script] Clayton [...] shut your trap!
[UK]A. Sillitoe Birthday 248: I told him to shut his trap or I’d punch his head in.
[UK]M. Hanif Case of Exploding Mangoes (2009) 38: ‘Shut your trap,’ he barks.
understand trap (v.)

to be aware, to know what is in one’s interest.

[UK]T. Flatman Heraclitus Ridens No. 5 (1713) I 30: Well, Brother, I understand Trap [OED].
[UK]T. Brown Amusements Serious and Comical in Works (1744) III 61: A bully of the blade [...] crying out, Split my Wind Pipe, Sir, you are a Fool, and don’t understand trap, the whole world’s a Cheat.
[UK] in D’Urfey Pills to Purge Melancholy IV 218: [Gamesters] that made their addresses in hopes of a snap, / But young as I was, I understood Trap.
[UK]Boyer Dict. n.p.: You do not understand trap, ‘vous n’y entendez pas finesse’ [F&H].
[UK]Foote The Minor 53: He did not understand trap, knows nothing of the game.
[UK]W. Cowper Letters I (2008) 15 Dec. 406: He understands book-sellers’ trap as well as any man.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum n.p.: Trap, To understand trap; to know one’s own interest.
[UK]‘My Thing Is My Own’ in Fake Away Songster in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) III 284: [as 1719] .
up to trap (adj.) (also trap)

aware.

[UK]Metropolis II 197: A papa too much up to trap to allow his offspring thus to be had .
[US]N.Y. Eve. Post 13 Aug. 2/6: The captain not being exactly Yorkshire, but being up to trap [had the cases opened.] The jokers, finding it ‘no go,’ made off.
[UK]E. Howard Rattlin the Reefer (2008) 439: Enough — you’re up to trap — so lend us a hand, and let us take the swag to the shay.
[Ire]S. Lover Handy Andy (2007) 37: A clever, ready-witted fellow, up to all sorts of trap.
[UK]G.J. Whyte-Melville General Bounce (1891) 223: Tom prided himself, above all things, on being ‘up to trap.’ [...] He was considered a ‘knowing hand’ amongst his disreputable associates.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum 92: trap Shrewd, smart.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. (2nd edn) 239: ‘Up to trap,’ knowing, wide awake.
J. Habberton Jericho Rd 170: You needn’t come any of your infernal high moral tricks on me — I’m up to trap.
[UK] ‘’Arry at a Radical Reception’ Punch 12 May 219/1: An awfully ‘earnest’ young mug, and not the least mite up to trap.
[US]J.H. Cook Fifty Years on the Old Frontier 22: There were other methods used in catching wild cattle, when they had become [...] so smart or ‘up to trap’ that a decoy herd would not hold them.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

trap house (n.) [house n.1 (1); note also trap house under trap v.1 ]

(US Und.) a brothel where clients are robbed while in flagrante by an accomplice who reaches in through a concealed panel.

[US]N.Y. Daily Trib. 27 Aug. 2/3: Theft at a Trap house. [headline] [...] while in bed he saw a secret panel of the room open, and a huge black fellow thrust his head in, take the pocket-book and money from his pantaloons’ pocket, and then withdraw, closing the panel after him.
[US]N.Y. Daily Express 3 Aug. 2/5: Being a man of bad character and a keeper of a ‘trap house,’ Justice Barker ordered him to be arrested.
trap money (n.)

(US black) a prostitute’s daily earnings.

[US]D. Goines Street Players 9: You sure in the hell ain’t impressing nobody with that A-D-C trap money.
trap (number) two (n.) [joc. use of greyhound terminology]

the anus; thus take it up trap two, to submit to anal intercourse.

UberMinx posting 28 Mar. on ‘Gentlemen. Can I have your attention please’ at dogbomb.co.uk [Internet] Now, Im no prude, nor an anal virgin, BUT, why does anal etiquette insist that the best way to get your partner to allow you up trap two, is by going up trap three, getting it all moist, and then pulling the ‘accidental entry’ stunt? OOH I SLIPPED?

In phrases

check a trap (v.) (also check one’s trap) [play on SE check one’s trap, but note check v. (1)] (US black)

1. to monitor a given situation, to oversee one’s business, esp. when it is illicit.

[US]G. Smitherman Black Talk.

2. to spend time with a lover, esp. one with whom one is having an affair.

[US]G. Smitherman Black Talk.
go round the traps (v.) [the image is of a farmer, gamekeeper or poacher touring the traps set to catch game]

(Aus.) to make a tour of inspection.

[Aus]J. Truran Where Plain Begins 224: Reuben and his brother were ‘going round the traps.’ They carried no lantern; as the traps belonged to somebody else, that would have been an unwise procedure [AND].
[Aus]W. Moxham Follow That Horse 105: Mrs Goldstone was [...] the owner of a string of dress shops [...] Mrs Goldstone had been away in Queensland going around her traps [AND].
in the trap

(US) at work.

N. Minaj [song title] Beez in the Trap.
[US]C. Eble UNC-CH Campus Sl. Spring 2014 8: IN THE TRAP — at one’s workplace: ‘I’m so broke I really need to get in the trap right now’.