\ 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 trailless (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 His team was trailing by one, and there were less than 10 minutes to play. Stefan Krajisnik, Indianapolis Star, "IU coach Archie Miller on Devonte Green: 'When he plays well, we're a different team'," 11 Jan. 2020 And while there has been little recent polling, the Real Clear Politics average of polls as of October showed Trump trailing Biden, Sanders and Warren in the state (there haven't been enough head-to-head polls between Trump and Buttigieg to say)., "A second term for Donald Trump? Michigan is at the center of the political universe," 9 Jan. 2020 In those matchups, Jones trails Sessions, Byrne, and Tuberville but leads Moore and Mooney. al, "Alabama Senate race: Intriguing theater or snoozer sequel?," 8 Jan. 2020 Phoenix trailed by as many as nine in the second quarter, but Booker closed out the half with back-to-back buckets to make the difference five. Duane Rankin, azcentral, "Monty Williams frustrated with Phoenix Suns after loss to Memphis," 5 Jan. 2020 The hedge-fund industry has trailed the market for 10 straight years, but our review shows that many smaller funds are doing well. WSJ, "Investing in Funds & ETFs," 2 Jan. 2020 The Packers trailed the Lions 17-3 in Detroit in the third quarter before storming back to win on a 33-field goal by Mason Crosby on the final play. Chris Tomasson, Twin Cities, "Vikings will open NFC playoffs at New Orleans next Sunday," 29 Dec. 2019 The Badgers trailed, 17-14, but reeled off four consecutive points. Jeff Potrykus, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "UW continues its methodical run by dispatching No. 1 Baylor to reach the NCAA women's volleyball title match," 19 Dec. 2019 Polls show Trump trailing most of the top Democratic candidates. Todd Spangler, Detroit Free Press, "These are the swing voters in Michigan who will sway 2020 election," 2 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Remember that surrounding rocks, trails and cliffs will still be slippery, and driftwood piles will be unstable. oregonlive, "How to stay safe when storm watching on the Oregon coast," 14 Jan. 2020 The district provides drainage, parks and trails for more than 30,000 residents in the Cinco Ranch area of Katy. Roy Kent, Houston Chronicle, "THIS WEEK: Katy City Council to meet; chamber meeting features drainage expert," 12 Jan. 2020 The town is mostly wealthy and white, with a latticework of bike trails and a pedestrian bridge lined with flower pots. Jacqueline Rabe Thomas, ProPublica, "How Wealthy Towns Keep People With Housing Vouchers Out," 9 Jan. 2020 Claim a spot at least one-quarter of a mile from the trails and 300 feet from any lakes. Stephanie Granada, Sunset Magazine, "From Snowy Yellowstone to Sunny Kauai, These Winter Camping Spots Are Breathtaking and Uncrowded," 8 Jan. 2020 Cyclists may want to try strapping on lights and reflective gear and hitting the paths and trails. Washington Post, "Most Americans hate winter. Here’s what they’re missing.," 7 Jan. 2020 This phase will include a plaza, performance amphitheater, restrooms and shelter building, trails and unique landscaping features, said Village Planner Tyler Zwagerman. Cathy Kozlowicz, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Menomonee Falls wants Village Park to become a community destination. Now, officials have taken the first step toward that goal.," 7 Jan. 2020 Yang has repeatedly brought up his support of Sanders on the trail and how much Yang admires Sanders. NBC News, "Iran pushes impeachment and the 2020 race off center stage — for now," 6 Jan. 2020 The new Danny Davis–designed Woodward Peace Park opens to the public this winter with flow trails and jumps for all skill levels. Megan Michelson, Outside Online, "36 Hours in Your Favorite North American Ski Towns," 6 Jan. 2020

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 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Trail.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 24 January 2020.

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More Definitions for trail


How to pronounce trail (audio)

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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More from Merriam-Webster on trail

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for trail

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with trail

Spanish Central: Translation of trail

Nglish: Translation of trail for Spanish Speakers

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

Comments on trail

What made you want to look up trail? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a feeling of well-being or elation

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