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trap (someone or something) in (something)
1. Literally, to ensnare or confine someone or an animal with or within something. He trapped the rabbit in a homemade snare. He managed to trap the burglar in the cellar while he waited for the police to arrive. I refuse to kill animals, so I trapped the rodent in a cage and released it in the forest.
2. To prevent someone or something from leaving something or some place. Often used in passive constructions. The accident trapped hundreds of drivers in traffic on the highway. I hate being trapped in the office when the sun is shining outside.
3. To prevent someone or something from escaping from or progressing beyond some situation or set of circumstances. Often used in passive constructions. The two companies have become trapped in a legal deadlock over this issue. A confluence of different forces has trapped tens of thousands of people in this region in a cycle of poverty.
4. To catch someone or something in some duplicitous moment or action. Often used in passive constructions. The prosecutor trapped the defendant in a lie that exposed his involvement in the crime. I felt like the interviewer spent the whole time trying to trap me in inconsistencies in my application.
See also: trap
trap (someone or something) into (something)
1. Literally, to ensnare an animal inside of something. He trapped the raccoon into the cage and brought it out to the woods to release it. The plant traps insects into a pouch filled with a sweet-smelling nectar that eventually digests them.
2. To force, compel, or manipulate a person, group, or entity into entering some inescapable situation or position. Often used in passive constructions. Tens of thousands of people in the region have been trapped into poverty following the collapse of the coal industry. The revolution ended up trapping the entire country into chaos and bloodshed for the last five years.
3. To force, compel, or manipulate a person, group, or entity into doing something against their will. It was discovered that the detectives had used blackmail to trap the suspect into confessing. Pressure from our investors trapped our company into taking on even more debt.
See also: trap