tri·​al | \ ˈtrī(-ə)l How to pronounce trial (audio) \

Definition of trial

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : the formal examination before a competent tribunal of the matter in issue in a civil or criminal cause in order to determine such issue
2a : the action or process of trying or putting to the proof : test
b : a preliminary contest (as in a sport)
3a : a tryout or experiment to test quality, value, or usefulness — compare clinical trial
b : one of a number of repetitions of an experiment
4 : a test of faith, patience, or stamina through subjection to suffering or temptation broadly : a source of vexation or annoyance
5 : attempt



Definition of trial (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : of, relating to, or used in a trial
2 : made or done as a test or experiment
3 : used or tried out in a test or experiment


trialed or trialled; trialing or trialling; trials

Definition of trial (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

: to test the functioning, value, or usefulness of (something) In 2014, Germany trialed a copyright law granting publishers licensing fees for quoted content.— Kim Willsher So a raft of demonstration projects around the world have trialled "smart grids" that deal with electricity flowing in two directions—accommodating individuals selling power back to the utility company operation …— Caroline Williams

Synonyms for trial

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Adjective

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Examples of trial in a Sentence

Noun He did not get a fair trial. He testified at the trial. She is awaiting trial on charges of assault. Early trials have shown that the treatment has some serious side effects. Recovering from her injury was a real trial of strength. I know I was a bit of a trial to my parents when I was a teenager. Cold winters can be a trial for older people. Adjective trial use of the product If you choose to use the software beyond the 30-day free trial period, you are required to pay for it. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The trial, again in Grand Rapids, is slated to last about two weeks. Joe Barrett, WSJ, 8 Aug. 2022 The McMichaels and Bryan were convicted in November of Arbery’s murder after a lengthy state court trial. Bill Rankin, ajc, 8 Aug. 2022 The federal case followed a state trial in November in which the men were convicted of murder and given life sentences. Daniella Silva, NBC News, 8 Aug. 2022 Travis McMichael, the man responsible for fatally shooting Arbery, had already been sentenced to life in prison without parole during a state trial in Georgia. CBS News, 8 Aug. 2022 Blinken is also expected to use his visit to Rwanda on Thursday to discuss Paul Rusesabagina's trial and conviction. Bea Wangondu, ABC News, 8 Aug. 2022 The channel, airing on channel 5.3 in Los Angeles, recently scored its largest audiences ever with its gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard trial. Stephen Battagliostaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 8 Aug. 2022 The trial, which has three phases, is still underway, with earlier research efforts delayed by the pandemic. Katherine Hignett, Forbes, 4 Aug. 2022 The trial, which is expected to last three weeks, comes as the Biden administration has taken a tougher stance against a trend of consolidation within industries. Sabrina Willmer, Fortune, 2 Aug. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Velasquez now is set for a pre-trial hearing Sept. 26. Nolan King, USA TODAY, 6 Aug. 2022 The remaining suspects in the case have pleaded not guilty and are due back in court Sept. 20 for a pre-trial hearing. Nancy Dillon, Rolling Stone, 4 Aug. 2022 All of the defendants are scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 2 for a pre-trial hearing. Chris Harris,, 25 July 2022 Friday's was the only pre-trial hearing in a lawsuit brought by Sandy Hook parents Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, whose six-year-old son Jesse was killed by the Sandy Hook gunman. Michael Murney, Chron, 16 July 2022 On Friday, Valle’s attorney asked the court for more time to review evidence before their next pre-trial hearing. Taylor Hartz, Hartford Courant, 15 July 2022 Lewis is due back in court for a pre-trial hearing later this month. Drake Bentley, Journal Sentinel, 14 July 2022 Haggis and his alleged victim, understood to be a 28-year-old British woman, attended the courthouse in the Southern port city of Brindisi accompanied by their lawyers for the special evidence pre-trial hearing last week. Naman Ramachandran, Variety, 5 July 2022 Pizzaro was ordered to return to court Aug. 18 by Judge Kenneth Fiandaca for a pre-trial hearing. Matt Yan,, 13 June 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'trial.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of trial


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2a


1555, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1971, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for trial


Anglo-French, from trier to try

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Time Traveler for trial

Time Traveler

The first known use of trial was in the 15th century

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Statistics for trial

Last Updated

10 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Trial.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for trial


tri·​al | \ ˈtrī-əl How to pronounce trial (audio) \

Kids Definition of trial

1 : the hearing and judgment of something in court
2 : a test of someone's ability to do or endure something
3 : an experiment to test quality, value, or usefulness
4 : the action or process of trying or testing


tri·​al | \ ˈtrī(-ə)l How to pronounce trial (audio) \

Medical Definition of trial

1 : a tryout or experiment to test quality, value, or usefulness — see clinical trial
2 : one of a number of repetitions of an experiment



Legal Definition of trial

: a judicial examination of issues of fact or law disputed by parties for the purpose of determining the rights of the parties — compare hearing, inquest
at trial
: in or during the course of a trial

History and Etymology for trial

Anglo-French, from trier to try

More from Merriam-Webster on trial

Nglish: Translation of trial for Spanish Speakers

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


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