mousetrap

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a better mousetrap

Something that improves upon an existing object or concept. Typically used in the phrase "build a better mousetrap." You don't have to try so hard to build a better mousetrap—just design what interests you and see what happens. The promise of capitalism has always been alluring. If you can build a better mousetrap, you'll have everything you ever hoped for and more. The young entrepreneur's revolutionary technology has made him a household name throughout the world. After all, if you build a better mousetrap, the world beats a path to your door.
See also: better, mousetrap

build a better mousetrap

cliché To invent something that improves upon an existing object or concept. You don't have to try so hard to build a better mousetrap—just design what interests you and see what happens.
See also: better, build, mousetrap

if you (can) build a better mousetrap

cliché If you can innovate and improve upon some existing object, concept, or design (then you will be rewarded with fame, riches, and admiration). Allegedly derived, but likely misquoted, from a speech by Ralph Waldo Emerson. It is often rendered as "if you (can) build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door." The promise of capitalism has always been alluring. If you can build a better mousetrap, you'll have everything you ever hoped for and more. The young entrepreneur's revolutionary technology has made him a household name throughout the world. After all, if you build a better mousetrap, the world beats a path to your door.
See also: better, build, if, mousetrap

the only free cheese is in the mousetrap

proverb Nothing is truly free. Everything comes with conditions, however hidden or unseen. A: "There's no way this service is actually free—they have to make money somehow. The only free cheese is in the mousetrap." B: "Yeah, I bet this is only a free trial and that they'll charge your account once it's up."
See also: cheese, free, mousetrap
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

build a better mousetrap

to develop or invent something superior to a device that is widely used. (From the old saying, "If you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door.") Harry thought he could build a better mousetrap, but everything he "invented" had already been thought of.
See also: better, build, mousetrap
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

a better mousetrap

an improved version of a well-known article.
This expression comes from an observation attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson in 1889 , though also claimed by Elbert Hubbard : ‘If a man write a better book, preach a better sermon, or make a better mousetrap than his neighbour, tho' he build his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door’.
See also: better, mousetrap
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

better mousetrap, (if one can) build a

A minor but important improvement will bring fame and fortune. This idea came from a speech Ralph Waldo Emerson made in 1871 and quoted (or misquoted) by Mrs. Sarah S. B. Yule. Emerson allegedly said, “If a man can write a better book, preach a better sermon, or make a better mousetrap than his neighbor . . . the world will make a beaten path to his door.”
See also: better, build, one
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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