con·​trail ˈkän-ˌtrāl How to pronounce contrail (audio)
: streaks of condensed water vapor created in the air by an airplane or rocket at high altitudes

Examples of contrail in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web For its part, American Airlines is also working on transitioning to sustainable aviation fuels and even reducing airplane contrails that exacerbate global warming. Justine Calma, The Verge, 28 Nov. 2023 The story also found that flights that avoided contrails burned 2% more jet fuel on their journey. Emily Price, PCMAG, 10 Aug. 2023 Gregg traces his fixation on the Western Flyer to his childhood growing up in coastal Georgia, where the sky was often coursed by contrails from Cape Canaveral. Thomas Curwen, Los Angeles Times, 3 Nov. 2023 Update 3: Jim Oberg follows up on how an unusual contrail caused a media sensation. IEEE Spectrum, 9 Nov. 2010 If there are no contrails or clouds surrounding it, the plane is moving against a completely uniform blue sky. Sara Nelson, Discover Magazine, 29 Sep. 2023 All were during the day and roughly half used the contrail avoiding software to adjust altitude, while half did not. Kyle Arnold, Anchorage Daily News, 14 Aug. 2023 The test flights did burn through 2 percent more fuel by avoiding contrails. Justine Calma, The Verge, 9 Aug. 2023 The contrail of a Falcon 9 rocket might be visible from San Diego County Tuesday night when the vehicle lifts off from Vandenberg Space Force Base in central California. Gary Robbins, San Diego Union-Tribune, 18 July 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'contrail.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


condensation trail

First Known Use

1943, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of contrail was in 1943

Dictionary Entries Near contrail

Cite this Entry

“Contrail.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


con·​trail ˈkän-ˌtrāl How to pronounce contrail (audio)
: a stream of visible water or ice particles created in the air by an airplane or rocket at high altitudes

More from Merriam-Webster on contrail

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