Any of various plants bearing small spiny fruits, especially of the genera Tribulus and Kallstroemia.
A metal device with four projecting spikes so arranged that when three of the spikes are on the ground, the fourth points upward, used as a hazard to pneumatic tires or to the hooves of horses.
An iron device with four spikes, placed on the ground so that one spike sticks up to hinder enemy cavalry.
A similar device used to puncture pneumatic tires.
Any of a number of plants with spiny flowering parts or fruits.
- Various plants (esp. Tribulus terrestris) of the caltrop family.
- Various plants of other families, as star thistle and water chestnut.
Designating a family (Zygophyllaceae) of dicotyledonous plants, shrubs, or trees (order Sapindales), including guaiacum, creosote bush, and bean caper.
(weaponry) A small, metal object with spikes arranged so that, when thrown onto the ground, one always faces up as a threat to passers-by.
- 1858, The journal of the British Archaeological Association....her father, the emperor Alexius, who reigned AD 1081-1118, ordered caltrops to be cast in front of his archers...
- 1954, Joseph Needham, Ling Wang, Science and civilisation in China.By Sung times, several different types of caltrops had been developed. As in earlier times, both caltrops could be made from both wood and iron...
- 2000, Alan Vick, Aerospace operations in urban environments: exploring new concepts.Caltrops, tetrahedrons, and similar devices are designed to puncture vehicle tires or limit foot traffic. The standard design has four points.
Other Word Forms
Origin of caltrop
- Middle English calketrappe from Norman French and from Old English calcatrippe thistle both from Medieval Latin calcatrippa thistle possibly from Latin calcāre to tread on calque trappa trap (of Germanic origin)
From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition
- From the Latin calcitrapa (“thistle”).