English edit

A caltrop used in the Vietnam War
The coat of arms of Boulaide, Luxembourg, featuring caltrops
Centaurea calcitrapa
Tribulus terrestris

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Etymology edit

From Old English calcatrippe (plant that trips), from Medieval Latin calcatrippa (thistle), from Latin calx or calcare + trappa.

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Noun edit

caltrop (plural caltrops)

  1. (weaponry) A small, metal object with spikes arranged so that, when thrown onto the ground, one always faces up as a threat to pedestrians, horses, and vehicles (also used as a heraldic charge).
    • 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.
  2. (colloquial) The starthistle, Centaurea calcitrapa, a plant with sharp thorns.
  3. Any of a number of flowering plants in the family Zygophyllaceae, including several members of the genus Kallstroemia and the species Tribulus terrestris, native to warm temperate and tropical regions.

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