Also -raip, -rap.
etymology A mod.Sc. word, of unknown origin: the orig. phrase appears to have been 'to cast cantrips`, like to cast figures, horoscopes, nativities, lots, spells: perh. a perversion of some term of astrology. (Jamieson suggested cant to turn over + raip rope; Mahn Icel. gan frenzy, frantic gestures (which he renders 'witchcraft`) + trappa a step.)
A spell or charm of necromancy or witchcraft; a witch's trick or mischievous device. Also jocosely, any playfully mischievous trick; any whimsically mad, eccentric, or extravagant piece of conduct; in phr. to play one a cantrip.
1719 RAMSAY, Ep. Hamilton III. vi, "Nor cantrapes cast to ken your fate."
1725 ---, Gent. Sheph. II. ii, "A witch, that for sma' price, Can cast her cantraips, and give me advice."
1790 BURNS, Tam O'Shanter, "By some devilish cantrip slight Each in its cauld hand held a light."
1816 SCOTT, Antiq. xliv. 298, "'I think some Scottish deevil put it into my head to play him yon other cantrip.`"
1872 Daily News 17 Aug, "Our own young lady was permitted no such cantrips."
1884 TENNYSON, Becket 171 "Save from some hateful cantrips of thine own."
Return to The Cantrip Corpus.