\ 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

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 For context, Alabama didn’t trail for a second after the third quarter of the Week 4 game with Georgia. Michael Casagrande |, al, 22 Nov. 2021 The Patriots, who climbed four spots to No. 8, have won four in a row and trail the Bills by only half a game in the AFC East. Simmi Buttar, ajc, 16 Nov. 2021 The probe launched on time at 5:34 a.m. aboard United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket, beginning a 4-billion-mile journey to explore the Trojans, two clusters of asteroids that lead and trail Jupiter, stuck in its orbit around the sun. Caroline Glenn,, 16 Oct. 2021 Even though the Astros trail 1-0 in the World Series, there's still plenty of time for Correa and Co. to mount a comeback. Steve Gardner, USA TODAY, 28 Oct. 2021 The wave of Delta deaths has been particularly high in rural areas of the South, where vaccination rates trail those of nearby metropolitan areas. New York Times, 1 Oct. 2021 Much of the land south of Ocmulgee Mounds National Historic Park is privately owned, but as a national park and preserve, local officials could add paddling launch sites to make the water trail more accessible. Stephanie Vermillion, Condé Nast Traveler, 22 Sep. 2021 Sonny Gray allowed three hits in six scoreless innings for the Reds, who still trail the Brewers by 8½ games., 26 Aug. 2021 Both sides are well armed; though the Democrats trail the Republicans in Super PAC funds, Obama’s official campaign currently has twice as much money as Romney’s. Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker, 9 Aug. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Employees will have access to an on-site health clinic, gym and trail system. Madison Iszler, San Antonio Express-News, 29 Nov. 2021 These wildlife, game or trail cameras would also be the perfect holiday gift for your favorite nature lover our outdoor enthusiast. San Diego Union-Tribune, 27 Nov. 2021 Carter made the first 3 at 9:23 of the first quarter against Brooklyn when Blake Griffin stayed in his drop off the ball screen, contained Anthony with his defender behind him in a lock-and-trail technique, and allowed the shot. J. Michael,, 13 Nov. 2021 From $199 per night, including breakfast and trail passes for two. Washington Post, 11 Nov. 2021 The committee has already received approval from the city to construct the 7-foot tall monument next to the parking lot and bike trail at Hart Park, 7300 W. Chestnut St. Evan Casey, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 10 Nov. 2021 The work completed includes all infrastructure, upsizing of utilities, the installation of lighting, trail and sidewalk installation and more. Carrie Napoleon,, 10 Nov. 2021 Stoneman Douglas and Monarch are ranked 11th and 12th and trail eighth-place Cypress Bay by more than .020, making their chances at the postseason difficult. Adam Lichtenstein,, 27 Oct. 2021 Now the campaign trail and this year’s marquee matchup in Virginia. ABC News, 24 Oct. 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

30 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Trail.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Dec. 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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