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

Like the contrails of a jet liner, the first couple leave behind a photo spread of face-framing hats, designer evening gowns, one Gucci postcard frock, one pussybow blouse and one spectacularly ill-fitting example of full evening dress. Washington Post, "Trump’s catastrophic fashion choices in England were not just a sign of bad taste," 6 June 2019 Overhead, vintage American warplanes rumbled past, while advanced fighter jets streaked through the skies, trailing red, white and blue contrails. Mark Landler, New York Times, "Trump Honors D-Day Sacrifices, With Some Legacies Unspoken," 6 June 2019 For example, airplanes don't only generate warming through carbon emissions; their contrails also seed high-altitude clouds, which have an insulating effect. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "When will electric airliners make sense?," 14 Dec. 2018 Leaving a stunning contrail in the predawn sky, the launch was a significant one for SpaceX, the California space company founded by Elon Musk in 2002. Christian Davenport,, "SpaceX sends AI robot named CIMON to the International Space Station," 29 June 2018 The contrail will be brief but brilliant, featuring colors ranging from bright white to aqua to a bit of pink. Gary Robbins,, "Launch of Mars spacecraft should be visible from San Diego early Saturday," 4 May 2018 The rocket is barely a speck in the sky now, with an arcing contrail and still-bright engine exhaust. Popular Mechanics, "55 Things to Do Before the World Ends," 19 Apr. 2018 SpaceX is scheduled to launch a set of Iridium satellites from Vandenberg Air Force Base early Friday and the contrail might be visible from San Diego County. Gary Robbins,, "Rocket launch might be visible from San Diego County at 7:13 a.m. Friday," 29 Mar. 2018 The sky is clogged with contrails, the straight lines of the bombers, the circles and spirals of the fighters looping around them. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "Read an excerpt from Luna author Ian McDonald’s heartbreaking new time-travel romance," 31 Mar. 2018

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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Statistics for contrail

Last Updated

19 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for contrail

The first known use of contrail was in 1943

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English Language Learners Definition of contrail

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

More from Merriam-Webster on contrail

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with contrail Encyclopedia article about contrail

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