Entries linking to mousetrap
Middle English mous, from Old English mus "small rodent," also "muscle of the arm" (compare muscle (n.)); from Proto-Germanic *mus (source also of Old Norse, Old Frisian, Middle Dutch, Danish, Swedish mus, Dutch muis, German Maus "mouse"), from PIE *mus-, the old Indo-European name of the mouse, retained in several language families (source also of Sanskrit mus "mouse, rat," Old Persian mush "mouse," Old Church Slavonic mysu, Latin mus, Lithuanian muse "mouse," Greek mys "mouse, muscle").
Plural form mice (Old English mys) shows effects of i-mutation. As a type of something timid or weak, from late 14c. Contrasted with man (n.) from 1620s (nor man nor mouse). Meaning "black eye" (or other discolored lump on the body) is from 1842. Computer sense of "small device moved by the hand over a flat surface to maneuver a cursor or arrow on a display screen" is from 1965, though the word was applied to other things resembling a mouse in shape since 1750, mainly in nautical use.
Parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus [Horace]
"contrivance for catching unawares," late Old English træppe, treppe "snare, trap," from Proto-Germanic *trep- (source also of Middle Dutch trappe "trap, snare"), related to Germanic words for "stair, step, tread" (Middle Dutch, Middle Low German trappe, treppe, German Treppe "step, stair," English tread (v.)).
This is probably literally "that on or into which one steps," from PIE *dreb-, an extended form of a root *der- (1), base of words meaning "to run, walk, step." The English word is probably akin to Old French trape, Spanish trampa "trap, pit, snare," but the exact relationship is uncertain.
The sense of "deceitful practice, device or contrivance to betray one" is recorded from c. 1400. The meaning "U-shaped section of a drain pipe" is from 1833. Slang meaning "mouth" is from 1776. Speed trap is by 1908. Trap-door "door in a floor or ceiling" (often hidden and leading to a passageway or secret place) is attested from late 14c. (trappe-dore).
updated on March 12, 2019