Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. An explosive device designed to be triggered when an unsuspecting victim touches or disturbs a seemingly harmless object.
  • n. A situation that catches one off guard; a pitfall.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An antipersonnel device deliberately hidden or disguised as a harmless object
  • n. An unforeseen source of danger; a pitfall

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. any concealed device causing surprise or injury when a usually harmless object is touched; -- in military operations, typically containing an explosive charge.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an explosive mine hidden underground; explodes when stepped on or driven over
  • n. an unforeseen or unexpected or surprising difficulty

Etymologies

From booby ("dunce, idiot"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • A false-floor chamber was a fairly common booby trap in the ancient Egyptian world—mainly because it was very simple to build and exceedingly effective.

    Seven Deadly Wonders

  • He had no intention of playing into whatever booby trap the Mosslander had prepared for him, but something had to be done, and he didn’t dare wait until morning to do it.

    Conqueror's Moon

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