Definition of trapeze in US English:



  • 1A horizontal bar hanging by two ropes (usually high in the air) and free to swing, used by acrobats in a circus.

    • ‘The Flying Fangalis swung across the trapeze with curved blades, slashing the flailing woman across her mid-section.’
    • ‘Which means they're in just as much of a bind as we are, which means Kim has all kinds of cards to play, which means these talks will be a six-ring circus featuring nuclear weapons on the flying trapeze.’
    • ‘Here endeth the circus metaphor: The trapeze I wanted got taken out of the ring today.’
    • ‘Also, I'm working on the bungee, and I'm trying really hard to learn the trapeze.’
    • ‘If you long to walk on stilts, act like a clown or swing on a trapeze, this is the place for you.’
    • ‘Henthorn, a Chicagoan, got hooked on the trapeze after seeing a circus show.’
    • ‘She makes swinging on a trapeze look way too easy.’
    • ‘He also tried his hand at boxing, baseball, hockey, and the circus trapeze.’
    • ‘In addition to providing books, board games, and magic lantern shows, the Boys' Club of New York opened a gymnasium with trapezes, horizontal bars and boxing equipment.’
    • ‘Nobody had ever made theatre look like it, let alone Shakespeare - on a bare white stage with trapezes and ropes.’
    • ‘The six-strong troupe entertained children and parents alike with circus acts, such as the trapeze, acrobatics, juggling and plate spinning.’
    • ‘At first, she can't even swing on the trapeze; she merely hangs, then falls to the net.’
    • ‘She also happens to be tied up with a cruel and wealthy Duke who wants her to swing on his trapeze.’
    • ‘Swinging on a trapeze is like your third-grade swingset times ten, and the surge of childish adrenaline makes you giddy.’
    • ‘This will be supported by 45 street performers who will entertain the crowds playing music, walking the trapeze, and performing acrobatics.’
    • ‘From that she swung and caught hold of one of the set of looped vines and using them as trapezes she swung her way across to the flower in the middle.’
    • ‘Using silks, ropes, a trapeze and an aerial hoop, the duo examine, with minimal words, that indecipherable emotion.’
    • ‘They swoop over the crowd on wires and perform acrobatic feats on trapezes.’
    • ‘I think she has in her head a little trapeze with a five-year-old like a circus monkey swinging on it.’
    • ‘About 45 street performers will be entertaining the crowds by playing music, walking the trapeze and performing acrobatics.’
  • 2Sailing
    A harness attached by a cable to a dinghy's mast, enabling a sailor to balance the boat by leaning backward out over the windward side.

    • ‘He introduced innovations in standing and running rigging, sail setting, hydrofoil under-water gear, remotely controlled pumps, self-draining devices, controllable, flexible rigs, trapezes and out-board hung rudders.’
    • ‘These boats added wings and a trapeze, so crews could lean out over the water, providing ballast with their own bodies.’
    • ‘The dinghy has three sails and a trapeze, which allows Katherine to lean out of the boat on a wire to counteract the force of the sails and keep the boat upright.’
    • ‘In the comfort of their trapezes and trampolines, the multihull sailors had an easier time than the courageous Laser sailors, who were constantly adjusting sails, gear and centerboards to the gusts of wind and choppy waters.’


Mid 19th century: from French trapèze, from late Latin trapezium (see trapezium).