\ 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)



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

Other Words from trail


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

Synonyms & Antonyms for trail

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Verb

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Choose the Right Synonym for 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

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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Trinity, which didn’t trail in either game Tuesday, took a 1-0 lead in the first inning of the opener on two walks and a Piedmont error. Ben Thomas |, al, 17 May 2022 On Saturday night, the Gaels did not trail and played brilliant, smothering defense. Steve Kroner, San Francisco Chronicle, 26 Feb. 2022 The Spurs now trail the Lakers by four games in the loss column. Dan Woike, Los Angeles Times, 7 Mar. 2022 Nadal did not only trail Medvedev, who was seeded No. 2, by two sets on Sunday. New York Times, 30 Jan. 2022 Pepperoni now sits beside my neon-green pothos, LL, who recently began to trail. Alicia Andrzejewski, Outside Online, 15 Apr. 2022 Chris DiPentima, president of the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, said the state’s economic recovery will continue to trail New England and the U.S. Stephen Singer, Hartford Courant, 14 Apr. 2022 After a first half struggle that left them fortunate to trail just 34-28, the Wildcats cut the deficit to one possession a couple times early in the second with some crisper ball movement. Dan Wolken, USA TODAY, 25 Mar. 2022 The Blazers continued to play well in the third quarter, but the Pistons caught fire on offense and won the quarter 36-28 to trail just 96-88 heading into the fourth. oregonlive, 21 Mar. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Video posted on Twitter showed a trail of destruction along a commercial strip in Gaylord, which is about 175 miles north of Lansing. Christopher Mele,, 20 May 2022 The remarks by Cornyn, a former member of the Senate's Republican leadership, amount to one of the most stinging public rebukes of Paxton by a high-ranking member of his party over a growing trail of legal problems. Chron, 19 May 2022 Rural Alaska Recent ice jam flooding in Western Alaska and the Interior resulted in dozens of homes and businesses sustaining significant damage, authorities estimated this week, as spring breakup subsided and left behind a trail of destruction. Tess Williams, Anchorage Daily News, 19 May 2022 The shooter targeted a Black neighborhood and left a trail of white supremacist statements for investigators online, according to police. Frank Shyongcolumnist, Los Angeles Times, 17 May 2022 The 32-year-old pop star is notorious for leaving a trail of Easter egg clues leading up to each of her new album announcements, and on the Thursday (May 12) episode of The Tonight Show, the late-night host was determined to dissect them all. Hannah Dailey, Billboard, 13 May 2022 Through PACs, donors once could shuffle their money until the trail of campaign cash was untraceable. al, 11 May 2022 Most recently, in January this year, Tropical Storm Anna left a trail of destruction across 18 districts and affected more than 1,300 households, according to Nkomo. Tonderayi Mukeredzi, The Christian Science Monitor, 11 May 2022 A few hours later, a dog walker stumbled on the grisly remains, and police followed a trail of blood back to the crime scene. Rebecca Rosenberg, Fox News, 11 May 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of trail


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


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for trail


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

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Time Traveler for trail

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

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Dictionary Entries Near trail



trail (along) behind/after

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Statistics for trail

Last Updated

22 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Trail.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for trail


\ 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.



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

More from Merriam-Webster on trail

Nglish: Translation of trail for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of trail for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about trail


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