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Possibly a Western US English dialectal word of unknown origin. Perhaps from contrive + trap + -tion, while also possibly approximating construction. Chambers suggests contrivance + adaption[1]. Neither Chambers nor Concise Oxford suggests a US origin. cf cantrip (Scots dialect), a wilful piece of trickery.



contraption (plural contraptions)

  1. A machine that is complicated and precarious.
  2. (figuratively, derogatory or ironic) Any object.
    • 1960, P[elham] G[renville] Wodehouse, chapter XII, in Jeeves in the Offing, London: Herbert Jenkins, OCLC 1227855:
      “Yes, sir, if that was the language of love, I'll eat my hat,” said the blood relation, alluding, I took it, to the beastly straw contraption in which she does her gardening, concerning which I can only say that it is almost as foul as Uncle Tom's Sherlock Holmes deerstalker, which has frightened more crows than any other lid in Worcestershire.



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  1. ^ Chambers Dictionary, Edinburgh, 1998, s.v.