Definition of caltrop in English:



  • 1A spiked metal device thrown on the ground to impede wheeled vehicles or (formerly) cavalry horses.

    ‘militant demonstrators threw a box of caltrops across the highway’
    • ‘A caltrop is a military device consisting of four metal spikes arranged so that, whichever way it falls, at least one spike points upwards.’
    • ‘The plot progresses like a horse marching over caltrops, jerking wildly every time its foot encounters the next point.’
    • ‘The entrance where journalists are allowed to go in looks like Normandy Beach, with tank caltrops, razor wire and sandbagged defensive positions that have taken over half of the square.’
    • ‘He didn't know what weapon he possessed, if any, beyond the caltrops.’
    • ‘It was a combination of towers, palisades, ditches, abatis, and caltrops to slow the attacking Gauls, so that Roman missile engines could more effectively engage them.’
  • 2A creeping plant with woody carpels that typically have hard spines and resemble military caltrops.

    Genus Tribulus, family Zygophyllaceae

    • ‘Caltrop is a perennial herb that can infest a wide variety of crops and pastures.’
    • ‘Caltrop is an herbaceous annual that commonly grows prostrated on the ground.’
    • ‘Caltrop is quite rare in Cottesloe, as far as I know, and it looks like this infestation may have been introduced during works associated with the path construction, perhaps.’
  • 3

    another term for water chestnut (sense 3)


Old English calcatrippe, denoting any plant which tended to catch the feet, from medieval Latin calcatrippa, from calx ‘heel’ or calcare ‘to tread’ + a word related to trap. caltrop (sense 1) was probably adopted from French.