\ 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 The Philadelphia Phillies trail St. Louis by 3 games. Dave Clark, The Enquirer, 15 Sep. 2021 The Reds trail the Padres by one game, and the Cardinals are three games back. Creg Stephenson |, al, 10 Sep. 2021 To recap: Beavers trail 16-14, faced fourth-and-2 at the OSU 37 with eight minutes remaining. oregonlive, 7 Sep. 2021 That being said, the overall vaccination rates for Shasta and Kings counties still trail the statewide average. Susie Neilson, San Francisco Chronicle, 30 Aug. 2021 But the Buckeyes still trail Clemson in the college football hierarchy. Doug Lesmerises, cleveland, 1 July 2021 For example, the U.S. did not trail once on the way to winning the 2019 World Cup in France. San Francisco Chronicle, 8 Aug. 2021 Overall, the Wild's eight points trail only Vegas (10), but just three points separate the team from eighth-place Arizona (five). Sarah Mclellan, Star Tribune, 25 Jan. 2021 Gallo excels at the qualities that matter most to the Yankees, who trail in the American League East and wild-card standings. New York Times, 29 July 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The rivalry is probably more intense on the recruiting trail these days. Matt Murschel,, 2 Sep. 2021 Perhaps Oregon State’s best position on the recruiting trail in recent years thanks to a haul of Teagan Quitoriano, Luke Musgrave and Jake Overman, the Beavers landed another talented jumbo pass-catcher this cycle in Jack Velling. oregonlive, 1 Sep. 2021 For Michigan, it’s now or never – both between the lines and inside the boundaries of the recruiting trail. Rainer Sabin, Detroit Free Press, 27 Aug. 2021 The Tigers’ class remains 13th out of 14 team in the SEC, but the program has made impressive strides on the recruiting trail since the start of July, adding eight commitments over the last 44 days. Tom Green |, al, 19 Aug. 2021 Winning on the recruiting trail, though, is a major factor in winning on the field. Joseph Hoyt, Dallas News, 12 Aug. 2021 The Miami Hurricanes carried their momentum on the recruiting trail from July into August, securing the verbal pledge from another blue-chip defensive back recruit this week. Khobi Price,, 11 Aug. 2021 All three have been lauded for their efforts on the recruiting trail. Michelle Gardner, The Arizona Republic, 9 Aug. 2021 Newsom and his allies have also alluded on the campaign trail to a broad array of Elder's other past comments regarding women, which were chronicled by CNN's KFile. Maeve Reston, CNN, 26 Aug. 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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Dictionary Entries Near trail



trail (along) behind/after

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Statistics for trail

Last Updated

19 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Trail.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Sep. 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

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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