1

trail

verb \ ˈtrāl \
Updated on: 10 Nov 2017

Definition of trail

intransitive verb
1 a : 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
2 a : 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
4 a : 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
1 a : to draw or drag loosely along a surface : allow to sweep the ground
b : haul, tow
2 a : 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
3 a : 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)

Examples of trail in a Sentence

  1. The little girl went to her room, trailing her teddy bear behind her.

  2. The dog's leash was trailing along the ground.

  3. The little girl's teddy bear trailed behind her.

  4. He trailed us as we worked our way up the mountain.

  5. The President is trailing in the polls as the election approaches.

  6. We were trailing by 3 runs at the end of the 6th inning.

  7. Our team trailed their team at the end of the 6th inning.

Recent Examples of trail from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of trail

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

trail Synonyms

Synonyms
bird-dog, chase, course, dog, hound, pursue, run, shadow, tag, tail, trace, track, follow
Antonyms
guide, lead, pilot
Related Words
accompany, chaperone (or chaperon), escort; hunt, search (for), seek; eye, observe, watch
Near Antonyms
head

Synonym Discussion of trail

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

2

trail

noun

Definition of trail

1 a (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
2 a : 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

trailless

play \ˈtrāl-ləs\ adjective

Examples of trail in a Sentence

  1. Stay on the trail if we get separated.

  2. The car left a trail of smoke as it sped off.

  3. following the trail to success

First Known Use of trail

14th century

Other Agriculture/Gardening Terms



TRAIL Defined for English Language Learners

trail

verb

Definition of trail for English Language Learners

  • : 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

Definition of trail for English Language Learners

  • : 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 Defined for Kids

1

trail

verb \ ˈtrāl \

Definition of trail for Students

trailed; trailing
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.

2

trail

noun

Definition of trail for Students

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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