con·​trail | \ ˈkän-ˌtrāl How to pronounce contrail (audio) \

Definition of contrail

: 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 Better yet, anyone with binoculars may be able to see a small, v-shaped contrail from the rocket. Cailey Rizzo, Travel + Leisure, "NASA Is Launching a Rocket Toward the Space Station Tonight and You May Be Able to Spot It," 2 Oct. 2020 Lit up all red, looked like a contrail fizzling out. Sarah Brookbank, The Enquirer, "Meteor, UFO, streak of light? Twitter users report sighting in Cincinnati, U.S.," 30 Sep. 2020 But the beach is now tranquil and the tide pools reflect a more cobalt sky, noticeably lacking the contrails of aircraft thundering toward the achingly empty Logan airport. William Sargent, The Christian Science Monitor, "Of plovers and pandemics: Reflections on resilience from Sandy Point," 28 Apr. 2020 The filaments could be relic emissions from older episodes of jet activity, left behind in the galaxy’s wake much like contrails from a soaring airplane. Robin George Andrews, Scientific American, "Strange Extragalactic Strands Mystify Astronomers," 16 Apr. 2020 But new research suggests contrails actually make climate change worse. Aarian Marshall, Wired, "Canceled Flights, New Waymo Sensors, and More Car News This Week," 8 Mar. 2020 That's when the greatest sports dynasty of my lifetime (sorry, Yankees fans), Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls, disintegrated into a contrail of grandeur and glory tinged with bitterness. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Four reasons New England Patriots dynasty has died with Tom Brady's departure and won't be resurrected soon," 18 Mar. 2020 How does a plane generate a contrail that in turn becomes a climate trigger? Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "Here's What Would Happen If Planes Flew Even 2,000 Feet Higher," 20 Feb. 2020 Increasing or decreasing the altitude of aircraft a few thousand feet to avoid thin layers of humidity could make a deep cut to contrails' contribution to climate change. Susanne Bard, Scientific American, "Jet Altitude Changes Cut Climate Changing Contrails," 25 Feb. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'contrail.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of contrail

1943, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for contrail

condensation trail

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Time Traveler for contrail

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The first known use of contrail was in 1943

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Cite this Entry

“Contrail.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

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How to pronounce contrail (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of contrail

: a stream of water or ice particles created in the sky by an airplane or rocket

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