- a shaky, rattling object, as a rickety vehicle.
- informal a broken-down old vehicle, esp an old car
1766, originally a noun, “knick-knacks, trifles, odds and ends,” from rattle (adj.) + trap, perhaps in the sense in traps (n.2). Hence, “a shabby, rattling object,” especially a rickety coach or other vehicle (1822). The adjectival sense of “rickety” is recorded from 1834.