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Traps for the Unwary(1).jpg


Middle English, from Old English treppe & Anglo-French trape (of Germanic origin); akin to Middle Dutch trappe trap, stair, Old English treppan to tread


  • 1: a device for taking game or other animals; especially : one that holds by springing shut suddenly
  • 2a : something by which one is caught or stopped unawares; also : a position or situation from which it is difficult or impossible to escape
b : a football play in which a defensive player is allowed to cross the line of scrimmage and then is blocked from the side while the ballcarrier advances through the spot vacated by the defensive player
c : the act or an instance of trapping the ball in soccer
d : a defensive maneuver in basketball in which two defenders converge quickly on the ball handler to steal the ball or force a bad pass
  • 3a : a device for hurling clay pigeons into the air
b : sand trap
c : a piece of leather or section of interwoven leather straps between the thumb and index finger of a baseball] glove that forms an extension of the pocket
  • 4: slang : mouth
  • 5: a light usually one-horse carriage with springs
  • 6: any of various devices for preventing passage of something often while allowing other matter to proceed; especially : a device for drains or sewers consisting of a bend or partitioned chamber in which the liquid forms a seal to prevent the passage of sewer gas
  • 7:plural : a group of percussion instruments (as a bass drum, snare drums, and cymbals) used especially in a dance or jazz band
  • 8: an arrangement of rock strata that favors the accumulation of oil and gas
  • 9: plural [speed trap] : a measured stretch of a course over which electronic timing devices measure the speed of a vehicle (as a racing car or dragster)


Mantraps are physical security devices or constructions designed to entrap a person on purpose.

Historically, mantraps were mechanical devices for catching poachers and trespassers. The devices have taken many forms, the most usual being like a large foothold trap, the steel springs being armed with teeth which met in the victim's leg. Since 1827, they have been illegal in England, except in houses between sunset and sunrise as a defence against burglars.

Also, other traps such as special snares, trap netting, trapping pits, fluidizing solid matter traps and cage traps could be used.

Mantraps that use deadly force are illegal in the United States, and there have been notable tort law cases where the trespasser has successfully sued the property owner for damages caused by the mantrap. As noted in the important US court case of Katko v. Briney, "the law has always placed a higher value upon human safety than upon mere rights of property.

A man trap in modern physical security protocols refers to a small space having two sets of interlocking doors such that the first set of doors must close before the second set opens. Identification may be required for each door, sometimes even possibly different measures for each door. For example, a key may open the first door, but a personal identification number entered on a number pad opens the second. Other methods of opening doors include proximity cards or biometric devices such as fingerprint readers or iris recognition scans. Metal detectors are often built in in order to prevent entrance of people carrying weapons. Such use is particularly frequent in banks and jewellery shops. Mantraps may be configured so that when an alarm is activated, all doors lock and trap the suspect between the doors in the "dead space" or lock just one door to deny access to a secure space such as a data center or research lab.

In a lower security variation of a mantrap, banks often locate automated teller machines within the dead space between the entrance doors and the interior lobby doors to prevent ATM robbery and night walk-up robberies. Entry access by ATM card to the dead space offers additional customer protection. They are also known as air locks in the security industry.