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

Despite having long had an edge in core count over Intel CPUs on desktops, AMD has been trailing Intel in laptop wins. Gordon Mah Ung, PCWorld, "Acer's latest laptops go all-AMD with Ryzen and Radeon inside," 23 May 2019 Turnbull’s administration had trailed Labor in more than 30 Newspolls before his government replaced him with Morrison as elections loomed. Trevor Marshallsea, The Seattle Times, "Australia’s leader vows to get back to work after shock win," 19 May 2019 Totokaelo is not a store that caters to trail runners. Jacob Gallagher, WSJ, "Why Non-Runners are Obsessed with These Running Shoes," 29 Apr. 2019 From Dominican beauty Annibelis Baez's dark curls to artist muse Laura Morgan’s long blonde waves, the majority of the lineup received glossy slick backs with windblown lift at the roots and lengths that trailed neatly in the back. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "Proenza Schouler Just Sent Cool-Girl Wet Hair Down the Runway—And It’s Easier to Pull Off Than You Think," 12 Feb. 2019 As Wisconsin voters tune in to Walker’s race against state school superintendent Tony Evers, Walker appears to be trailing for real. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News, "Fox News Power Rankings: Dean Heller, survivalist," 19 Sep. 2018 Showers and thunderstorms will be ongoing across the Gulf Coast thanks to a trailing cold front stalled across the region. Janice Dean, Fox News, "Much colder air moving into the Northern Plains, watching Hurricane Rosa bring possible flooding to the Southwest," 28 Sep. 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The Roxbury also has two buildings dedicated to its Shimmer Spa, for a little—or a lot of—pampering after a day’s hiking on the nearby trails. Elle Decor Editors, ELLE Decor, "7 Dreamy Memorial Day Getaway Hotels To Book Now," 13 May 2019 Mr Sharif’s absence from the campaign trail seems to have hurt the PML-N. The latest sounding by Gallup, a polling firm, suggests the PTI has closed a previously sizeable gap and is now level pegging with Mr Sharif’s party. The Economist, "Pakistan’s former prime minister embraces jail to rally his party," 12 July 2018 Officials said the woman fell about 25 feet about 12:30 p.m. She was airlifted from the trail to an ambulance located at Smithgall Woods. Raisa Habersham, ajc, "Hiker rescued after falling down 25-foot embankment at Georgia trail," 9 July 2018 The hints are sprinkled throughout the film, but writer-director Ari Aster pulls viewers far enough away from the trail so the ending still comes as shock. Yohana Desta, HWD, "Let’s Talk about Hereditary’s Insane Ending," 8 June 2018 OrbiMed Advisors has returned to the fundraising trail seeking $1.2 billion to invest in health-care royalty streams and credit financing for drug development, according to a regulatory filing. Laura Kreutzer, WSJ, "OrbiMed Seeks $1.2 Billion for Third Health-Care Royalty and Debt Fund," 30 Jan. 2019 These objections resurfaced as the president returned to the campaign trail ahead of the midterm elections last November. Isaac Stanley-becker, The Seattle Times, "Critics demand networks fact-check Trump’s live immigration speech," 8 Jan. 2019 The trouble is that much of the trail of Anna Harvey’s influence is undetectable. Sarah Mower, Vogue, "Remembering Anna Harvey, the Vogue Editor Who Dressed Princess Diana and Translated the Magazine’s Style Across the World," 15 Oct. 2018 Republicans have also taken the issue to the campaign trail. Tara Golshan, Vox, "The public thinks the Supreme Court is more liberal than it is," 12 Sep. 2018

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

5 Jun 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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