Definition of contraption in English:



  • A machine or device that appears strange or unnecessarily complicated, and often badly made or unsafe.

    ‘repairing stereos and making contraptions out of spare electronic bits’
    • ‘You find strange contraptions made of rubber and metal lying around in the basement.’
    • ‘People taking rides on giant wheels and similar contraptions should be warned that they are taking a risk.’
    • ‘Fruit machines used to be pretty simple contraptions, but you'd need a mathematics degree to operate them these days.’
    • ‘It took old-fashioned rocket science to put the contraption into orbit on September 27 last year.’
    • ‘For example, the machines might resemble the contraptions used by the state lottery agencies to determine winning numbers.’
    • ‘The mechanised contraption rattled its way over the rolling hills.’
    • ‘At first, you might think that writing about mechanical contraptions could end up being an extremely boring and dry endeavour.’
    • ‘The noisy contraption of an elevator stopped once it reached the bottom of the shaft.’
    • ‘There are the flying machines and steam contraptions, technology from a fantastic version of the industrial age.’
    • ‘Undoubtedly the contraptions and apparatuses in Keaton's films are the basis for his gags.’
    • ‘Also displayed are two power-gliders, which are two-seater contraptions powered by small engines.’
    • ‘His shoes were strange contraptions bound in metal strips and leather ties.’
    • ‘No longer the wooden contraptions of yore, they are powered by large diesel sets.’
    • ‘Some of his contraptions do not have steering wheels and he still calls them ‘cars’.’
    • ‘A flood light granted sight to the strangest mechanical contraption any of them had ever seen.’
    • ‘Sadly, none of a myriad of ingenious contraptions, despite inventors' claims, puts forth more energy than it absorbs.’
    • ‘Neither of them wore gear and they were using some sort of strange cardboard contraptions as nets but they were wearing skates and they had sticks in their hands.’
    • ‘Bodies were needed to carry the contraption, for it had no wheels.’
    • ‘Giant machines and preternatural contraptions can dominate the landscape.’
    • ‘It was at least twice as big as a normal airplane hangar, with strange looking contraptions flying about.’
    device, gadget, apparatus, machine, appliance, mechanism, implement, utensil, invention, contrivance
    heath robinson device
    rube goldberg device
    gizmo, widget, thingamajig, thingamabob, whatsit
    doodah, doobry, gubbins
    dingus, doodad, doojigger, doohickey
    View synonyms


Early 19th century: perhaps from contrive (on the pattern of pairs such as conceive, conception), by association with trap.