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[kuh n-trap-shuh n] /kənˈtræp ʃən/
noun, Informal.
a mechanical contrivance; gadget; device.
Origin of contraption
1815-25; perhaps contr(ivance) + (ad)aption, variant of adaptation
Related forms
contraptious, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for contraption
  • He remained convinced that the fellow with the device measuring such things didn't really know how the contraption worked.
  • The contraption could conceivably help provide power to soldiers, relief workers, scientists and others on remote trips.
  • Members of the third group, lacking an expert to guide them, failed to figure out the contraption on their own.
  • Those are theoretical figures for the time being because the contraption hasn't flown too far yet.
  • Down below, the little park's slide, seesaw and climbing contraption draw tiny tots toward their first taste of adventure.
  • Mounting the throwing arm on tube, instead of a short one took a lot of wiggle out of the contraption.
  • And if he runs out of bullets, he has a big knife strapped to the contraption with duct tape.
  • The wax is not strong enough to hold the candle and your contraption will collapse.
  • Work out some sort of double boiler, two-pot contraption and fill the big pot with water, heat until boiling.
  • The whole contraption works faster than one might imagine.
British Dictionary definitions for contraption


(informal, often facetious or derogatory) a device or contrivance, esp one considered strange, unnecessarily intricate, or improvised
Word Origin
C19: perhaps from con(trivance) + trap1 + (inven)tion
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for contraption

1825, western England dialect, origin obscure, perhaps from con(trive) + trap, or deception.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for contraption



A contrivance or device; piece of machinery: What's this ugly contraption in the corner? (1820s+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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