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A trapdoor is a door set into a floor or ceiling (depending on what side of the door one is on). An exposed trapdoor could also be called a hatch, although hatches may not be necessarily horizontal. Many buildings with flat roofs have hatches that provide access to the roof; on ships, hatches provide access to the deck. A small door in a wall, floor or ceiling used to gain access to equipment is called an access hatch. Hidden trapdoors occasionally appear in fiction, either as entrances to secret passageways, or as literal traps into which a hapless pedestrian may fall if he or she happens to stand on one.

Most 19th- and 20th Century gallows featured a trapdoor, usually with two flaps. The victim was placed at the join. The edge of a trapdoor farthest from the hinge accelerates faster than gravity, so that the victim does not hit the flaps but falls freely.

Trapdoors are commonly featured in cartoons as a slapstick comic effect.

See also


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

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Alternative spellings


trap + door




trapdoor (plural trapdoors)

  1. A hinged or sliding door set into a floor or ceiling.
  2. (theater) Such a trap set into the floor of a stage to allow fast exits and entrances.
  3. (computing) A secret method of obtaining access to a program on online system; a backdoor.


Derived terms


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

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