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 Then there’s the portia spider — a kind of jumping spider — which appears to use trial and error when faced with new kinds of prey, and then seems to remember what worked when faced with similar prey. Susanne Rust, Los Angeles Times, 12 Oct. 2023 Be prepared for a little trial and error to get the temperature right, based on our experience with this product in the lab. Dorian Smith-Garcia, Parents, 18 Sep. 2023 Western leaders and Ukraine have allowed what is still, in some important ways, a limited war to emerge organically and through trial and error. Austin Carson, Foreign Affairs, 14 Sep. 2023 Trial and Error Based on Individual Needs Finding the right product for anxiety treatment often requires some trial and error. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 7 Sep. 2023 Over the years the authors provide more cooking methods, though there is some trial and error. Dylan Moriarty, Washington Post, 9 Nov. 2023 It’s been a process of trial and error to figure out what works for me, but regular exercise is by far the best way to manage my symptoms. Pam Moore, C.p.t., SELF, 3 Nov. 2023 In the end, this project took us about 30 hours of labor and was full of trial and error. Halee Miller, Better Homes & Gardens, 30 Oct. 2023 There was some trial and error involved in setting it up as well. Rennie Dyball, Peoplemag, 31 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'trial and error.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1806, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of trial and error was in 1806

Dictionary Entries Near trial and error

Cite this Entry

“Trial and error.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition

trial and error

: the trying of one thing or another until something succeeds

More from Merriam-Webster on trial and error

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