\ 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 Rarely will Sherman, 32, exclusively trail one receiver in a zone-heavy scheme. Jarrett Bell, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Cam Newton, Bill Belichick need each other as post-Tom Brady era begins in New England," 13 Sep. 2020 The bond between Maya and Anna feels unspoken and lived-in, full of sentences that trail off into meaningful glances. Darren Franich,, "PEN15 season 2 is a marvel of middle school terror and wonder: Review," 8 Sep. 2020 Both Parnell and Owens trail their Democrat opponents in cash on hand. Caitlin Conant, CBS News, "2020 Daily Trail Markers: Wisconsin governor calls Legislature into special session after Jacob Blake shooting," 24 Aug. 2020 With the loss, the Timbers trail the Sounders all-time in MLS play, bringing their record to 13-15-6. Caitlin Murray, oregonlive, "Portland Timbers resume regular season with lopsided loss to rival Seattle Sounders," 24 Aug. 2020 Atlanta took two of three games from the first-place Marlins and trail them by only percentage points. Steven Wine,, "Elieser Hernandez strikes out nine, but Marlins drop second straight to Braves," 16 Aug. 2020 So that’s squeezing studios' bottom line even as the workloads trail off. oregonlive, "Portland filmmakers scramble to shoot movies, TV and commercials during pandemic," 9 Sep. 2020 Taking a third straight game would put them a game away from a return trip to the conference finals, and Boston would trail a series for the first time in this postseason. Tim Reynolds,, "Celtics look to regain momentum in Game 5," 6 Sep. 2020 At 14 mpg in the city, 19 on the highway and 16 combined, EPA fuel economy estimates for my 6.2L 4WD High Country trail its direct competitor, a Ford Expedition with a less powerful 375-hp twin-turbo V6. Tribune News Service, cleveland, "2021 Chevrolet Tahoe SUV sets standard for big SUVs (review)," 22 Aug. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The 64-year-old man suffered a broken pelvis when he was pushed from his bicycle on the trail in Kensington, the police said. Martin Weil, Washington Post, "Man,64, assaulted on Montgomery bike trail, police say," 16 Sep. 2020 President Trump continues to question Biden's age and ability to be commander-in-chief, but on the trail -- in actions both planned and seemingly impromptu -- Biden aims to show voters that his age is not a concern. Caitlin Conant, CBS News, "GOP state politicians call on Big Ten commissioner to allow football season," 8 Sep. 2020 Out on the trail, signs of the pandemic were evident. Noreen Nasir, Star Tribune, "Trump, Biden spar over economy, workers in Labor Day blitz," 7 Sep. 2020 The rescue is also looking looking for people to act on the trail and to help with set-up and other areas of the event. Melanie Savage,, "Hay Burr Inn Equine Rescue and Sanctuary has some great events coming up," 7 Sep. 2020 By the time riders took off on the trail toward the pier, there were more than 75 of them. Jennifer Smith Richards,, "Biker returns to Winnetka pier, this time to a welcome," 5 Sep. 2020 Trevor Murphy compared his actions on a trail last week to returning his cart to the parking lot corral after he's done his shopping. Emily Wilder, The Arizona Republic, "'The right thing to do': Jogger stomped out brush fire for 2 hours before helicopter captured viral video," 25 Aug. 2020 Expect to find plenty of other people on the trail, especially on sunny days and weekends. oregonlive, "4 hikes to explore around Camas, a surprising natural escape in the suburbs," 22 Aug. 2020 Biden, in addition to the debate, was an attacker on the trail, chosen by former President Barack Obama as his No. 2 for two terms to appeal to white, working-class Democrats who felt the eventual commander in chief was academic and aloof. Naomi Lim, Washington Examiner, "Kamala Harris poses threat in traditional attacker role played by VP candidates," 13 Aug. 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

30 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Trail.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Oct. 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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