“Catch work trap device” – meaning and use of ‘Trap, Trapping’

From “Beez in the Trap” to “Trap Queen“, trapping has become a part of mainstream and popular English slang nowadays. Lots of native speakers are now getting used to this fun little word. But what about all my learners out there? Do you know what a “trap” is? We’ll take a look and explain what this word is and how to use it. To do that, we’ll read some dialogues with our favorite character, Charles. (To find other short stories and dialogues where I explain English expressions, check out Adventures of Charles) All set? Here we go …

The Trap

brown mouse inside mouse trap, representing the slang meaning of "trap"
by ardeshir etemad, Pexels.com

Explain

First of all, the trap can refer to a place. Normally, a “trap” is a situation or device used to trick someone or capture something. Think of a mousetrap used to catch mice. Well in slang, the trap has been used a lot to talk about a place, sometimes an actual house (trap house), where drug deals happened. I know, that’s a little dark. It’s also been used to talk about a place where any illegal activities and transactions happen on a regular basis.

On a similar tone, sometimes it’s used to talk about the “hood” or lower-class neighborhoods in general. That’s probably because these kinds of neighborhoods have usually been where you could find a trap house. Now, the whole block is considered a “trap.” This is also where you get names like trap queen and trap music, now a whole subgenre of hip hop.

Dialogue

One thing had been on Charles’s mind for the longest time: Sheila. But he’d heard some rumors about her that he wanted to clear up. One man knew more about Sheila than anybody else, and Charles was in the neighborhood to find him.

Charles — Okay, I hope this is the right stop. Goodness, what is this place? It’s so dirty and empty. I better find this guy soon … before it gets dark.

A boy from the neighborhood came up to Charles, noticing he was kind of lost.

Local boy — Hey, yo. What’s your name? You looking for the trap or what?

  • Are you looking for the drug house, looking to buy some illegal things?

Charles — Who, me? No. I mean, sorry. I’m not from around here. I’m just looking for somebody.

Local boy — I figured, cuz I ain’t ever seen you around here before. Why you look all scared? You never been to a trap before?

  • Haven’t you ever been to a hood, a ghetto, a poor neighborhood before?

Charles’s nervousness was showing all over his face.

Charles — No, I mean … I don’t know. I didn’t know there were places like this in this city. It’s so different. Just trying to find somebody.

Explain

All illegal activity aside, nowadays a trap can also be a place where one makes their money or just spends their time. It’s a bit more sarcastic used this way though. The idea is still of a place or situation that is hard to get out of. Trap is also used to refer to trap music in general, in the sense of “listening to trap.”

Dialogue

Local boy — I could help you find “somebody.” You know her name? What street is she on?

Charles — Oh, no, it’s a he. I’m looking for this rapper or singer or whatever– He records at the studio on Wilmington Ave.

Local boy — Oh, dang. He doesn’t owe you anything, does he? That boy is so bad at paying people back.

Charles — No, no. I need to talk to him about a girl. Sheila. They record together.

Local boy — Ahh, okay! You’re talking about Lil B Dowry, that old trap rapper from down past the alley.

  • That rapper who makes trap music.

Charles — You know him?

Local boy — Yeah, I know who he is. If he’s not at the trap right now, he’s probably at home. Want me to take you over?

  • If he’s not at work, at the place where he makes money.

He thought for a second. Then Charles gave the boy a nod, and they started walking down the street, around the corner, and past the alley.

To Trap

Explain

This is basically the verb version of the above. Just like how “trap” in regular usage can be a situation/device and an action, “trap” in slang can also be an action. More often than not, people refer to the action as trapping. Trapping is used a lot to talk about making illegal transactions, especially dealing with drugs. But you’re all saintly people, so you won’t need to use it like that 😉

Dialogue

As they got near to Lil B Dowry’s house or hang-out spot — or trap, as the local boy called it — Charles noticed a couple of strange-looking people with tired eyes and smelly clothes wandering around. They looked sick in the face, and they couldn’t stop shuffling around on the floor like they were searching for worms.

Local boy — Ha. You see them? They’re probably coming from Lil B’s place right now.

Charles — Yeah? Does Lil B … trap?

  • Does he sell drugs, make money illegally?

The local boy laughed and shook his head. He then turned to Charles.

Local boy — Well, that’s what people say. Let’s find out.

Explain

Now, trapping doesn’t have to be all bad. In the loosest sense, it’s used to talk about any kind of work that one makes their money from. Some people use it to talk about making money in general, even by legal means. That’s right; even on their legal paying jobs, sometimes people say trapping.

Dialogue

When they arrived at the house, Lil B Dowry was already on the front porch. He put out his cigarette and stood up, ready to encounter two strangers. But he realized they weren’t so strange after all.

Lil B Dowry — Hey, bro! What’s happening with you?

Local boy — You know this guy? He was wandering around the block, lost, looking for you.

Lil B Dowry — Heck yeah, I know this fool. I’ve seen him around at the studio. You know, the one on Wilmington. Come on up, don’t be scared!

The sun was getting low in the sky. The sick people were still shuffling around in the streets.

Local boy — So, I see you’ve been hustling out here. Making hit songs and making deals on these fiends.

Lil B Dowry — Nah, that’s not on me. You know I don’t trap like that.

  • You know I don’t sell drugs, make money illegally like that.

Local boy — You mean, you don’t sell …

Lil B Dowry — All of my trapping is legal, kid. I make my music, and that’s it. Don’t get misconstrued. If anybody is dealing drugs, it’s Charles over there. Probably got ties with the Colombian Cartels, the Haitians. He might even be in the Japanese mafia, for all we know.

  • All of my ways of making money are legal.

They broke out laughing, and Charles realized that the rapper was joking with him. Thank God!

Explain

Just a quick note. Trap can also be a person that is lying or deceitful. It’s especially used towards women or trans people who lie about their identity, but that’s another story. You can read more about that meaning if you want to here.

Dialogue

Charles — Yeah, you all better run from me. I’ll get the mob after you. But for real, I came to ask you about …

Lil B Dowry — Sheila? I know, I remember you liked her. You come to find out if she’s a trap or not. Listen, Sheila’s cool, okay? You don’t have to worry about her. And you can ask her for yourself, she doesn’t hide anything.

  • Find out if she’s a liar, if she’s deceitful, if she’s a fake.

A sigh of relief swept over Charles. Nerves came back when he realized how dark it was.

Local boy — That’s cool you rap at a studio though. You should get me a spot in the booth.

Lil B Dowry — For sure! If you want, I’ll take you down there right now. Sheila’s probably getting done making a song right now, Charlie. I’ll take y’all if you want.

Charles — That’s alright! Where’s your car parked?

Closing

Alright, my learners! I hope this made some sense to you. These aren’t all the possible meanings of “trap,” but this is mostly what you’ll want to know. Since it’s a term that originates from illegal activities, it could be a tricky word to know how to use. If you’re an English learner, I suggest not using it unless you’re around people who use it commonly. If you’re around younger people, you could surprise them with your use of “trap” in the healthy, legal sense.

Whatever you decide, at least you now understand these slang expressions. Use them in your own sentences. Think of songs where you’ve heard these expressions. And whatever you do …! Don’t give up learning. Peace out! And take care.

“Earn money side turn” Flip / Flipside – meanings & uses

Do you want to know the meanings and uses of English words like “flip” and “flipside?” You’re in the right place! I’ll give you some examples of the words’ usual definitions as well as the slang definitions. We’ll also look at some examples in a dialogue with our buddy, Charles. You can find more of these dialogues and short stories using casual language in Adventures of Charles. I’ll also leave links for you to read more about these words if you’d like. Here we go.

two street vendors sitting and selling candies, showing the slang meaning of the word flip in English
flipping is hard work – by ia huh

Flip

This is one of those words that can have many meanings. You can flip a pancake, do a flip on the floor, a backflip in the other direction. You can flip things up and flip things down. As an action (verb), flipping something can mean making a profit from it. People use it more when talking about turning a smaller amount of money into a larger amount, or buying something with intention of selling it for more. People also use it to talk about making something with less value more valuable. This was commonly used to talk about selling drugs, but it’s now used for any activity of making a profit. You can “flip” clothing or houses, for example. There’s actually a show about flipping houses on the Home & Health channel. Flipping can also mean to suddenly change your opinion or to cheat someone. As far as being positive or negative, this word kind of goes both ways.

1st Dialogue

It was a wonderful day, just a beautiful day. Why? It was one of Charles’s very rare days off, of course. On his days off, he usually liked to stay up late, sleep late, and watch his turtles. He might eat at noon or he might eat at sunset. Who cared? It was his day off! Instead of doing those things, though, he decided to go and boast his day off to a friend he knew was working.

Charles — Hey, I’d like to order a coffee cake!

Ordering at the counter, he was happy to see that his friend, Jonah, was there to cater to him on the other side.

Jonah — Charlie? What are you doing here? You don’t have work?

Charles — Of course not! It’s my day off, so naturally I came here to gloat.

Jonah — You’re just mad cuz I’m flipping these cakes into some real dough.

  • I’m making a profit, making money from baking these cakes.

Charles — Yeah, well if you stopped trying to flip over your boss, you might actually get somewhere with it. Do you even like baking?

  • Trying to cheat your boss, taking advantage of him.

Jonah — No, but the bakers here before me were terrible. This place would’ve gone out of business if I hadn’t have flipped it. Here you go.

  • If I hadn’t turned things around, made this place better.

Jonah hands his friend a freshly baked coffee cake. Yum!

Charles — Thanks, my dude. Ey, you haven’t seen Sheila here today, have you?

Jonah — That’s three sixty-five. No, why?

Charles — Oh, nothing. She was supposed to meet me here today, but I guess she flipped on me.

  • I guess she changed her mind, decided not to come.

.

A man counting US dollar bills in his hands, showing the slang meaning of a flip in English
he just made a flip on something – by Karolina Grabowska

Flip

Now flip can also be used as a noun. When talking about a flip, one might be referring to a head-over-leg movement where they rotate their body over the ground. In slang, a flip can be the actual act of making a profit. Often, people express this by saying “make a flip” or “catch a flip.” It’s basically the noun version of the act of “flipping” above. Flip can also be a derogatory term describing a promiscuous woman, or at least a woman who the speaker thinks is promiscuous (I got to play it clean here, sorry). This comes from the idea that the woman “flips” (changes partners quickly) a lot or is “flipped” by different men. This use is not that important if you’re just learning English, though.

2nd Dialogue

Jonah — Oh. Dang, bro, I’m sorry. She ain’t a flip, is she?

  • She isn’t a sleazy girl, someone who sleeps around, is she?

Charles looks at his friend a bit confused and frowns.

Charles — What? You don’t mean …?

Jonah — Yeah?

Charles — No! No way, Sheila’s not like that. She records music a lot, so she gets stuck in her work sometimes.

Jonah — Ah okay. I hope so. You know you’re holding up my line, right?

Charles — My bad. Mmm! This cake is so good. I might have to start selling them myself.

Jonah — Hey! Don’t you start trying to make a flip off of my hard work.

  • Don’t try to make a profit from my work, my product.

.

two friends on the beach at sunset giving each other a handshake, showing an occasion where one might say catch you on the flipside in English
catch you on the flipside! – by Tyler Nix

Flipside

This one is pretty straightforward. The flipside just means “the other side.” People usually use it to mean after a situation is finished or after some event has passed. It’s often used in the phrase “Catch you on the flipside.” On occasion, one might say “on the flip” with this same meaning, taking out the “side.”

3rd Dialogue

Charles — I promise I won’t. I’m too lazy to sell anything. That’s why I work in the theater and at the college.

The people in the line were getting impatient. Why was this immigrant guy taking so long to take his cake and leave?

Charles — Let me get out of here. I’ll see you on the flipside.

  • I’ll see you later, after work, after a few days, after I do some things.

Jonah — Alright, catch you on the flip. And let me know if you hear from Sheila.

  • I’ll see you next time, on the flipside.

Charles gave Jonah a nod and started to walk away. The customer said, “Finally!” and started to order his cake or bread or pastry. Just as he was leaving the bakery door, Charles had one last thing to say.

Charles — God! That man can make a cake!

.

Final Thoughts

In summary, “flip” is kind of a tricky word. Because of its history as being a word related to drugs or its use with women, it can be somewhat offensive if not used correctly. That one’s probably better to leave to native speakers to use and you can at least understand them, although you can challenge yourself if you like! It’s obviously not always bad, since it’s a common word for talking about making money or reselling something. “Flipside” is a very neutral word and you don’t have to feel weird at all for using it. I hope this has helped you understand the informal meanings of these terms.

Comment if you’ve heard these words before, know a different meaning, or want to practice using them. Here are some more definitions below if you’re interested. Until then, we’ll be talking later!

Some Other Definitions

Flip: [verb] to turn (something) over with a quick or intentional movement; [noun] a movement where an object or body turns over quickly or forcefully

Profit: [noun] a gain or earning in money, [verb] to make a gain or earning

Boast: [verb] to express too much pride in something about oneself

Cater to: [verb] to attend to or serve (someone)

Gloat: [verb] to express self-pride or admiration in an excessive or improper way

Promiscuous: [adjective] being highly sensual or overly sexual

Sleazy: [adjective] showing low moral values or loose behaviors, especially related to sex

Straightforward: [adjective] being easy to understand or do

Flipside: [noun] the other side or opposite end of something; another day

Pastry: [noun] dough used for making desserts like pies; a kind of dessert made from dough

Cash apology – “sorry” and slang terms for “money” meanings & uses

Terms: sorry / for money (cash, bricks, bands, bag, dough, etc.)

I sure like counting all this money.

Charles had his hands full of dollars of the U.S. variety. Not because he was rich, no! Are you crazy?

—It must be fun to work in the financial department. You get to take that money home and count it? Touch all on it. Dang, sounds like heaven to me!

Jonah was watching him with a hunger.

—Can I just touch one … well, a couple of them?

—No, Sir-ee! This is not my money, bro. If it was I wouldn’t let you touch it, either, but my life is on the line if I get fired. Sorry, can’t do it.

—Well! I don’t know why you work at that sorry theater on the side. If I was you, I’d be happy to sit here and count money all day.

Charles looked around at the blank white walls, felt the absence of an air conditioner, heard the BLUGUG of a bubble descend from their giant jug of nasty water.

—I would die if I worked here all the time. The theater is a good distraction. Plus, I like drama.

—Heck, there’s plenty of drama right here on campus.

They both laughed at that fact.

—Hey, what did you mean by “sorry?” I didn’t get why you would apologize for me working with plays.

Jonah scratched his chin.

—No, bro. Sorry, as an adjective. It just means that something sucks, basically. It’s low quality, not good. Like if you buy a car that’s old and raggedy and is halfway falling apart. That’s a “sorry” car. Look at me, sounding all smart!

—Uh-huh. Thanks for the clarification, said Charles.

Fasho. Yeah, man. I was you, I would stay here and count stacks all day. Maybe slip a wad into my pocket.

Charles’s fingers stopped moving. His eyes tilted up. What did that guy just say?

—Guy, what did you just say? Stack? Wad? What in the world?

Jonah jumped up eagerly.

—Oh man, I’m about to learn you! I mean, teach you, of course. Look, Charlie; stacks and wad are both money. You ever seen a stack of something? Pancakes, maybe? Well, replace the pancakes with bills and that’s how you get “stacks.” As for wad, you just need to picture a handful of cash. Wad can be a small bundle of anything, though. Cash, you probably know, is money too. Hehe.

—Yeah, Charles said, —I knew cash. That’s the only one I knew, actually. What other words do you all have for money?

His fingers went to counting the dollars again. Jonah continued to rant excitedly about his favorite topic.

—Oh, that’s easy! I said stacks, so you got racks and bricks if you’re really making money. “Racks” are like shelves, so I guess if you made racks, you could just stack them on a big shelf. “Bricks” are like those red things you use to build a house, but they’re thick like a stack of money. What else? You got bands, figures, green. “Green” is obvious, ‘cus of the color. “Figures” mean digits. If you make 5 figures, that’s making a five-digit salary. Anywhere between 10,000 and 99,999. Same for 6 figures, 10 figures, and so on. A band is a thousand bucks, and bucks are money. You have to hold a thousand together with a rubber band, which is probably why they call it that. Same with a grand, or a G for short. That means a thousand bucks too. You probably have a few “G’s” in your hands right now!

Charles bulged his eyes.

—Wow, that is a lot. Any more?

Jonah continued, —Let’s see. You got loot, dough… “Loot” used to be treasure for pirates in the old days. “Dough” is what you make bread out of. Oh, and bread is another one. Hmm, guap and cheese are money, and bank is if you make a bunch of money. Like, “I made bank today.” “Cheese” like cheese slices at the grocery store. Some people say cheddar to be more specific. “Guap,” I don’t know. It sounds like guapo, or “handsome” in Spanish. Maybe like a handsome sum of money? Who knows. And don’t forget the bag. If you get “the bag,” you’re making good money. And … that’s all I got.*

Charles’s face fell stunned.

—Wow, you are an expert in something. I just can’t believe there are so many words for… and he waved a fistful of cash.

Jonah paused.

Never thought about it. I blame rap music. So, how many bands you got?

Charles checked.

—Let me see… There are about 5 G’s right here. I only got through this one stack.

—Well, you better start counting!

Charles laughed.

—I would if someone didn’t keep distracting me! And you’re right; all this money does make my other job look sorry.

Jonah chuckled and put his baseball cap on.

—That’s okay. I hear actors and playwrights get bank too.

.

  • With so many ways to talk about money, it can be hard to choose which word to use! Some words like cash are more common overall. Other words are used in more specific situations. For example, bag or bank are more common when talking about making money, while G’s and bands are for talking about quantities of money. When in doubt, use the words you hear being used most around you. I sure don’t use all of these on a daily basis! What is your favorite money slang?

*The language used in this dialogue is meant to reflect how different Americans might express themselves. Significant incorrect grammar or sensitive words will be underlined for reference.

Aren’t Americans rich or have an easy way to make money? – Wealth & poverty in the USA

Rich? Of course not! Let’s look at why…

A common misconception from the average foreigner that sees an American on vacation is, “Well, he or she must have money. Let’s charge them a teeny bit more.” And there’s good reason to think this way. Just look at the value of the dollar compared to any kind of peso, real, yen, rupee, or ruble. The values are outstandingly disproportionate. So, Americans on vacation can be charged a little more. Don’t feel sorry!

The thing is, you have to look at how many Americans travel abroad. The fact is only about 11% of us traveled abroad last year when you don’t count Mexico or Canada, which was even less than the year before it. I don’t even want to imagine how few traveled this year (2020, Covid-19, etc.).

The poverty threshold in the U.S. is set at $25,700 a year for a family of four, which accounts for some 38 million Americans.

Those that are more likely to be poor are:

  • single-parent families rather than couples
  • women, in general, rather than men
  • children rather than elder people

And there are nearly 4 million disabled persons living in poverty

Native Americans and blacks are also most likely to be poor, while whites and Asians are equally the least likely. But that’s a common trend pretty much everywhere.

So, that’s just talking about “regular poor.” What about those living in real, intense poverty? Well, counting Americans that make less than half of what’s considered the poverty threshold, there are still over 17 million that live in this zone called “extreme poverty.” That means they go hungry, that they don’t have a place to live, or live in dreadful conditions, if not on the street. That’s not to mention the over 93 million that are almost in poverty; that means if one tiny string gets cut, they’re qualified. To add to all that, there are even higher rates of Americans that face unstable access to sufficient food than those facing poverty. Surprising, isn’t it?

Now, don’t feel too bad; the vast majority of Americans work and are able to make a solid living, even live well. Due to the relatively developed infrastructure and welfare system, most poor people in the U.S. don’t have to live on the streets or in shantytowns like in so many other countries. The poverty rates calculated by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development) show that the U.S. has higher poverty rates than countries like Chile, Mexico, Turkey, and Russia, and falls at almost the bottom of all income metrics when compared to other “developed” nations.

To explain better, this doesn’t mean that the poor people in the U.S. are in worse states than the poor in Mexico, for example; it just means that there are more people in poverty in proportion to the overall population. After all, America has over 2.5 times more people than Mexico. Mind you, the way each country defines poverty is slightly different, so there very well may be more Chileans living in extreme poverty than Americans, even though there are more Americans living in poverty overall.

With all that said, Americans, in general, are better off than those in many countries, and our nation does have lots of programs that make life a little easier than it would be in a “developing” nation. Still, despite high rates of employment, poverty and hunger are still common issues across the country in both the biggest of cities (look at the homeless in Los Angeles) and rural areas (look at some of the unincorporated towns of California). California is a whole other special case, but you get the point. 

Poverty is a global problem that of course affects some places more than others. The U.S. in all its capitalist glory is, yes, still one of those places. Check the resources to learn more!

Resources:

Americans that travel abroad: https://www.statista.com/statistics/214774/number-of-outbound-tourists-from-the-us/#:~:text=In 2019%2C there were approximately,of 41.77 million overseas travelers.&text=Excluding visitors to Canada and,in 2018 at 41.77 million.

Poverty and hunger demographics in the U.S.: https://www.povertyusa.org/facts

Poverty rates in OECD nations: https://www.statista.com/statistics/233910/poverty-rates-in-oecd-countries/

A more in-depth look at poverty statistics in the U.S.: https://www.epi.org/publication/ib339-us-poverty-higher-safety-net-weaker/

Low-income places in the U.S.: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_lowest-income_places_in_the_United_States