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Alternative forms[edit]


Theater slang, c. 1730, from clap +‎ trap, referring to theatrical techniques or gags used to incite applause.


  • (UK, US) IPA(key): /ˈklæpˌtɹæp/
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claptrap (countable and uncountable, plural claptraps)

  1. Empty verbiage or nonsense. [from early 19th c.]
    Synonyms: hot air, palaver, waffle; see also Thesaurus:nonsense
    • 2014 November 6, Rob Nixon, “Naomi Klein’s ‘This Changes Everything’”, in The New York Times[1]:
      Klein diagnoses impressively what hasn’t worked. No more claptrap about fracked gas as a bridge to renewables. Enough already of the international summit meetings that produce sirocco-quality hot air, and nonbinding agreements that bind us all to more emissions.
  2. (historical) A device for producing a clapping sound in theaters.
  3. A device or trick to gain applause; a humbug.
    • 1869 May, Anthony Trollope, “Lady Milborough as Ambassador”, in He Knew He Was Right, volume I, London: Strahan and Company, [], →OCLC, page 83:
      There had been a suggestion that the child should be with her [while she answers the door], but the mother herself had rejected this. "It would be stagey," she had said, "and clap-trap. There is nothing I hate so much as that."