trail

verb
\ ˈtrāl How to pronounce trail (audio) \
trailed; trailing; trails

Definition of trail

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a : to hang down so as to drag along or sweep the ground
b : to extend over a surface in a loose or straggling manner a vine that trails over the ground
c : to grow to such length as to droop over toward the ground trailing branches of a weeping birch
2a : to walk or proceed draggingly, heavily, or wearily : plod, trudge
b : to lag behind : do poorly in relation to others
3 : to move, flow, or extend slowly in thin streams smoke trailing from chimneys
4a : to extend in an erratic or uneven course or line : straggle
b : dwindle her voice trailing off
5 : to follow a trail : track game

transitive verb

1a : to draw or drag loosely along a surface : allow to sweep the ground
b : haul, tow
2a : to drag (something, such as a limb or the body) heavily or wearily
b : to carry or bring along as an addition, burden, or encumbrance
c : to draw along in one's wake
3a : to follow upon the scent or trace of : track
b : to follow in the footsteps of : pursue
c : to follow along behind
d : to lag behind (someone, such as a competitor)

trail

noun

Definition of trail (Entry 2 of 2)

1a(1) : a track made by passage especially through a wilderness
(2) : a marked or established path or route especially through a forest or mountainous region
b : a trace or mark left by something that has passed or been drawn along : scent, track a trail of blood
c : a course followed or to be followed hit the campaign trail
2a : something that follows or moves along as if being drawn along : train a trail of admirers
b : a chain of consequences : aftermath the … movement left a trail of bitterness and prejudice behind it— Paul Blanshard
c(1) : the streak produced by a meteor
(2) : a continuous line produced photographically by permitting the image of a celestial body (such as a star) to move over the plate
3 : something that trails or is trailed: such as
a : a trailing plant
b : the train of a gown
c : a trailing arrangement (as of flowers) : spray
d : the part of a gun carriage that rests on the ground when the piece is unlimbered

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Other Words from trail

Noun

trailless \ ˈtrāl-​ləs How to pronounce trailless (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for trail

Synonyms: Verb

bird-dog, chase, course, dog, follow, hound, pursue, run, shadow, tag, tail, trace, track

Synonyms: Noun

footpath, path, pathway, trace, track

Antonyms: Verb

guide, lead, pilot

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Choose the Right Synonym for trail

Verb

chase, pursue, follow, trail mean to go after or on the track of something or someone. chase implies going swiftly after and trying to overtake something fleeing or running. a dog chasing a cat pursue suggests a continuing effort to overtake, reach, or attain. pursued the criminal through narrow streets follow puts less emphasis upon speed or intent to overtake. friends followed me home in their car trail may stress a following of tracks or traces rather than a visible object. trail deer trailed a suspect across the country

Examples of trail in a Sentence

Verb

The little girl went to her room, trailing her teddy bear behind her. The dog's leash was trailing along the ground. The little girl's teddy bear trailed behind her. He trailed us as we worked our way up the mountain. The President is trailing in the polls as the election approaches. We were trailing by 3 runs at the end of the 6th inning. Our team trailed their team at the end of the 6th inning.

Noun

Stay on the trail if we get separated. The car left a trail of smoke as it sped off. following the trail to success
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Health-care stocks are trailing the broader market by a historic margin early in 2019, the latest example of how political shifts have buffeted certain sectors. Amrith Ramkumar, WSJ, "Health-Care Stock Rout Deepens Amid Political Pressure," 17 Apr. 2019 Late in the game, Japan were trailing 1-0 against the Poles - who were already out - when news filtered through that Colombia had taken the lead against Senegal. SI.com, "World Cup Preview: Belgium vs Japan - Recent Form, Team News, Previous Encounter & More," 1 July 2018 In one California district, neuroscientist Hans Keirstead is trailing in a race that is still too close to call. Jeffrey Mervis, Science | AAAS, "Scientists fare poorly in Super Tuesday primary vote," 6 June 2018 Price, a civil rights attorney, was trailing with 36 percent. Rachel Swan, San Francisco Chronicle, "Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley leads," 5 June 2018 The Dolphins offense is trailing 21-13 with 13 seconds to play and the football on the 7-yard line. Armando Salguero, miamiherald, "Miami Dolphins offense might have a 'problem' unseen by team in years," 5 June 2018 Hunter-Reay was trailing teammate Alexander Rossi late but was closing in on him when Rossi locked up his brakes and rolled into the runoff area. Jim Ayello, Indianapolis Star, "Ryan Hunter-Reay snaps 42-race winless streak with victory in Detroit," 3 June 2018 Former longtime Roswell mayor Jere Wood was trailing incumbent Betty Price in the Republican primary in voting results late Tuesday. Mitchell Northam Brian O'shea, ajc, "Betty Price leading Jere Wood in Roswell area state House race," 22 May 2018 With 50 percent of the votes counted, incumbent Judge Joey Contreras was trailing challenger Karl Alexander, a Bexar County prosecutor, to preside over the 187th state District Court bench. Elizabeth Zavala, San Antonio Express-News, "Republican judicial candidates duke it out in 187th, 226th state District Courts," 22 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

One of the most popular locations is California's Yosemite, known for its waterfalls, giant sequoias, and hiking trails. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Despite Increased Safety, People Keep Getting Hurt at Yosemite's Half Dome," 3 May 2019 And yet, the shoe department of Totokaelo’s downtown Manhattan outpost carries trail-running sneakers with sturdy soles and plenty of traction made by Salomon, a 74-year-old French outdoor brand. Jacob Gallagher, WSJ, "Why Non-Runners are Obsessed with These Running Shoes," 29 Apr. 2019 Such decisions still touch nerves with some in a city that wrestles with divisions over class and ethnicity in ways O’Rourke rarely talks about on the trail. Will Weissert, The Seattle Times, "The Origin Story: A blind date, a border and Beto O’Rourke," 29 Mar. 2019 The Mushroom Dome has a large elevated deck, giving it major treehouse vibes, and is surrounded by hiking trails. Elizabeth Gulino, House Beautiful, "The World’s Most-Visited Airbnb of All Time is A Mushroom Dome in California," 29 Mar. 2019 Practical: No one gets a lot of sleep on the trail, but a woman has to get up an hour earlier for makeup, hair, to choose what to wear and get it together. Peggy Noonan, WSJ, "The Odd Way We Announce for President Now," 17 Jan. 2019 To recap, the cat-and-mouse detective series stars Oh as MI5 officer Eve Polastri, who's on the trail of murderer Villanelle (Jodie Comer). Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Everything You Need to Know About Killing Eve Season 2," 15 Jan. 2019 State agents on the trail of an inmate firefighter who disappeared from a minimum-security East County camp on Wednesday tracked him to Long Beach on Friday. Pauline Repard, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Inmate firefighter who escaped Boulevard camp caught in Long Beach," 16 June 2018 His wife, Amy O'Rourke, is set to have a large presence on the campaign trail. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Why Beto O'Rourke's Wife, Amy O'Rourke, Will Be Central to His Presidential Campaign," 15 Mar. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'trail.' 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 trail

Verb

13th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for trail

Verb

Middle English, perhaps from Anglo-French *trailer, alteration of trainer to drag, trail on the ground — more at train

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Learn More about trail

Statistics for trail

Last Updated

8 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for trail

The first known use of trail was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for trail

trail

verb

English Language Learners Definition of trail

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to pull (something) behind you especially on the ground
: to be pulled behind someone or something
: to walk or move slowly as you follow behind (someone or something)

trail

noun

English Language Learners Definition of trail (Entry 2 of 2)

: a path through a forest, field, etc.
: the marks, signs, smells, etc., that are left behind by someone or something and that can often be followed
: a route that someone follows to go somewhere or achieve something

trail

verb
\ ˈtrāl How to pronounce trail (audio) \
trailed; trailing

Kids Definition of trail

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to drag or draw along behind The horse trailed its reins.
2 : to become weak, soft, or less The sound trailed off.
3 : to follow in the tracks of : pursue Police trailed the robbers.
4 : to hang down, rest on, or creep over the ground trailing vines
5 : to lag behind After a mile, I trailed the other runners.

trail

noun

Kids Definition of trail (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a trace or mark left by something that has passed or been drawn along The dog left a trail of mud on the carpet.
2 : a beaten path
3 : a path marked through a forest or mountainous region hiking trails

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More from Merriam-Webster on trail

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with trail

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for trail

Spanish Central: Translation of trail

Nglish: Translation of trail for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of trail for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about trail

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