\ 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

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Dylan Gambrell and Timo Meier scored for the Sharks, who now trail St. Louis by four points for the fourth and final playoff spot from the West Division. Joe Stiglich, Star Tribune, "Kings score 3 in second period, beat Sharks 4-2," 11 Apr. 2021 The Wings lost to the Lightning, 2-1, on Saturday afternoon, and now trail the season series, 4-1. Marlowe Alter, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Red Wings game vs. Tampa Bay Lightning: Time, TV, more info," 4 Apr. 2021 Milwaukee lost its big lead at the end of the third quarter and would trail by as many as seven in the fourth quarter. Jim Owczarski, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Bucks 112, Grizzlies 111: Late rally and game-winning shot by Jrue Holiday have Milwaukee entering break on a high note," 4 Mar. 2021 Officers on bicycle patrol on the Greenway were flagged down near the Thompson and Sanders trail head about 5:45 p.m. Friday, according to police spokesman Lt. Jeff Taylor. Tom Sissom, Arkansas Online, "Woman's death in Springdale being investigated as homicide," 29 Mar. 2021 And gaps persist for Latinos and Blacks, who trail behind their white counterparts in getting the vaccine, according to a Dallas Morning News analysis of state vaccine data. Dallas News, "As COVID-19 vaccine eligibility opens up, fears persist that residents of color will continue to be left behind," 27 Mar. 2021 Medium-length styles, whose inseams measure five to seven inches, are popular for track and trail running. Sian Babish,, "The best running short for women," 1 Mar. 2021 Planters is America’s top-selling brand in the nuts, seeds, and trail mixes category, according data from Euromonitor., "CEO of Northland Investment to be replaced by son," 11 Feb. 2021 His nine Pro Bowl seasons are tied for the second-most by a safety in NFL history with Brian Dawkins and Ed Reed and trail only Ken Houston (10). Eric Branch, San Francisco Chronicle, "49ers GM John Lynch, nine-time Pro Bowl safety, elected to Hall of Fame," 6 Feb. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun And what ultimately came to fruition bore no resemblance to what was talked about on the campaign trail. Nina Trentmann, WSJ, "What CEOs, CFOs Are Saying About the Prospects of Higher Taxes," 15 Apr. 2021 The president pledged to require businesses to make workplaces safe from the coronavirus on the campaign trail. Timothy Noah, The New Republic, "Is Biden Ditching His Promise to Protect Workers From Covid-19?," 14 Apr. 2021 How do get things accomplished on the campaign trail? Jacques Kelly,, "Richard E. ‘Richie’ Evans, former lacrosse player and political advance man who owned Towson’s The Crease, dies," 12 Apr. 2021 On the campaign trail, Biden pitched himself as a bipartisan dealmaker capable of striking deals to earn support from members of both parties. Sarah Kolinovsky, ABC News, "Biden says he's willing to negotiate on infrastructure, but some Republicans aren't buying it," 12 Apr. 2021 The story became a minor issue on the campaign trail during that year’s gubernatorial race. Eric Lach, The New Yorker, "A Cautionary Tale of Workplace Harassment in the Cuomo Administration," 10 Apr. 2021 On the campaign trail, Joe Biden talked of launching a massive health agency following the DARPA model. Jocelyn Kaiser, Science | AAAS, "Biden wants $6.5 billion for new health agency to speed treatments," 9 Apr. 2021 Obama, for instance, was highly critical of George W. Bush on the campaign trail in 2008, but phoned him regularly once in office. John T. Bennett, Washington Examiner, "Bromance: Obama is the former president to whom Biden speaks most," 8 Apr. 2021 Until that bipartisan moment happened, Biden promised on the campaign trail to act quickly, including sending a bill to Congress on day one of his administration., "Joe Biden promised more on guns," 8 Apr. 2021

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


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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for trail

Last Updated

16 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Trail.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for trail



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)



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


\ 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

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