trial and error


Definition of trial and error

: a finding out of the best way to reach a desired result or a correct solution by trying out one or more ways or means and by noting and eliminating errors or causes of failure also : the trying of one thing or another until something succeeds

Examples of trial and error in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web According to Art Insider’s Maggie Cai and Hailey Gavin, Berger developed his unusual artistic style through several years of trial and error. Isis Davis-marks, Smithsonian Magazine, "Kamala Harris Portrait Draws Inspiration From the Glass Ceiling She Shattered," 8 Feb. 2021 Whether played on boards or computers, games were perfect candidates for developing deep reinforcement learning, or the process by which AI intuits the rules, rewards, and penalties of unfamiliar systems through large-scale trial and error. Dr. Will Roper, Popular Mechanics, "The Air Force Flew an AI Copilot on a U-2. Now, the Algorithm Has a New Mission.," 19 Jan. 2021 But the only way to learn how to make the best use of new technologies and reduce the risks is by trial and error. Johan Norberg, WSJ, "Why We Can’t Stop Longing for the Good Old Days," 26 Dec. 2020 This is where software learns from experience, essentially by trial and error, to get better at a task. Jeremy Kahn, Fortune, "Know when to fold ’em: How a company best known for playing games used A.I. to solve one of biology’s greatest mysteries," 30 Nov. 2020 Success is possible with a little bit of trial and error. Tarot Astrologers,, "Daily horoscope for December 20, 2020," 20 Dec. 2020 This process of trial and error builds the interactive world in their minds. Simon Parkin, The New Yorker, "Shigeru Miyamoto Wants to Create a Kinder World," 20 Dec. 2020 Of course, what works will be different for everyone, so there will likely be some trial and error in the process of de-stressing. Kara Mcgrath, Allure, "The Science of Beauty: Physical Symptoms of Stress and Relief Tips," 3 Dec. 2020 The first public-sector initiatives trace back to the 1960s, and many decades of trial and error—and uncounted billions of dollars—later, most government programs still do a relatively poor job. Tamar Jacoby, WSJ, "Helping Workers Displaced by the Covid-19 Economy," 18 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'trial and error.' 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 trial and error

1806, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for trial and error

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The first known use of trial and error was in 1806

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Statistics for trial and error

Last Updated

14 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Trial and error.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Feb. 2021.

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