\ ˈtrī How to pronounce try (audio) \
tried; trying

Definition of try

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to make an attempt you can do it if you try

transitive verb

1 : to make an attempt at often used with an infinitive try to fix the car
2a : to put to test or trial try one's luck often used with out try out a new method
b : to subject to something (such as undue strain or excessive hardship or provocation) that tests the powers of endurance
3a : to examine or investigate judicially try a case
b(1) : to conduct the trial of
(2) : to participate as counsel in the judicial examination of
4a : to melt down and procure in a pure state : render try out whale oil from blubber
b obsolete : purify, refine
5 : to fit or finish with accuracy
try one's hand
: to attempt something for the first time


plural tries

Definition of try (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an experimental trial : attempt succeeded on the first try
2 : a play in rugby that is similar to a touchdown in football, scores usually five points, and entitles the scoring side to attempt a placekick at the goal for additional points also : the score made on a try

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Synonyms for try

Synonyms: Verb

strain, stretch, tax, test

Synonyms: Noun

assay [archaic], attempt, bash [chiefly British], bid, crack, endeavor, essay, fling, go, offer, pass, shot, stab, trial, whack, whirl

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afflict, try, torment, torture, rack mean to inflict on a person something that is hard to bear. afflict is a general term and applies to the causing of pain or suffering or of acute annoyance, embarrassment, or any distress. ills that afflict the elderly try suggests imposing something that strains the powers of endurance or of self-control. children often try their parents' patience torment suggests persecution or the repeated inflicting of suffering or annoyance. a horse tormented by flies torture adds the implication of causing unbearable pain or suffering. tortured by a sense of guilt rack stresses straining or wrenching. a body racked by pain

attempt, try, endeavor, essay, strive mean to make an effort to accomplish an end. attempt stresses the initiation or beginning of an effort. will attempt to photograph the rare bird try is often close to attempt but may stress effort or experiment made in the hope of testing or proving something. tried to determine which was the better procedure endeavor heightens the implications of exertion and difficulty. endeavored to find crash survivors in the mountains essay implies difficulty but also suggests tentative trying or experimenting. will essay a dramatic role for the first time strive implies great exertion against great difficulty and specifically suggests persistent effort. continues to strive for peace

Examples of try in a Sentence


I don't know if I can do it, but I'll try. Keep trying. You can do it. You can do it if you try hard enough. “He said he can beat you.” “I'd like to see him try!” I tried, but I just couldn't do it. “She's not in the office now.” “OK. I'll try again later.” I don't know where she is. Try calling her on her cell phone. He tried a few things to remove the stain, but nothing worked. Did you try restarting the computer? If you want to lose weight, try exercising more.


was granted another try at the field goal
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Get your picture taken with the Live Pegasus or try your hand at Pickle Jousting. Michigan Renaissance Festival, Detroit Free Press, "Eat, drink and be Mary (Queen of Scots) at Michigan Renaissance Festival," 15 Aug. 2019 At the latter, craft with soapstone beads, try basket weaving and play Chumash Native American games. Sara Cagle, Los Angeles Times, "Elvis impersonators, LEGO fan fest and L.A.'s 238th birthday coming up," 14 Aug. 2019 Many people try over-the-counter or prescribed sleep aids. Shahab Haghayegh, Quartzy, "The science of why a warm bath before bed helps you sleep," 14 Aug. 2019 At first, election officials tried to ban the Moscow candidates from the local elections; when that didn’t work, authorities started arresting those opposition leaders and protesters. Jen Kirby, Vox, "The pro-democracy protests rocking Moscow, explained," 13 Aug. 2019 The White House's Office of Management and Budget has been trying to kill the space station. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Alabama space center will manage NASA’s lunar lander program," 13 Aug. 2019 City leaders have been trying since 1998 to bring vitality back to the neighborhood through an urban renewal area., "Portland readies another round of Lents Town Center development," 13 Aug. 2019 Authorities have been trying to piece together a motive and other factors that led to the mass shooting Aug. 4. CBS News, "Police split on whether Dayton, Ohio, gunman targeted sister," 13 Aug. 2019 Many people try over-the-counter or prescribed sleep aids. Shahab Haghayegh, The Conversation, "Want better sleep? Try a warm bath or shower 1-2 hours before bedtime, study suggests," 13 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The show is there as Carlson and members of the Zoo’s veterinary staff try to figure out how to deal with the sluggishness and loss of appetite that turn out to be the result of a heart condition. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Beneath all the warm fuzzies, new Animal Planet series on San Diego Zoo an eye-opening look at conservation," 14 Aug. 2019 Captain Michael Leitch scored two tries as Japan beat the United States, 34-20, to claim the Pacific Nations Cup rugby title in Suva, Fiji, for the first time . . ., "Sam Mikulak wins sixth US men’s gymnastics championship," 11 Aug. 2019 Ultimately, a portable defibrillator at the school shocked the child’s heart back into rhythm, but only after the second try. Joseph Goodman |, al, "Inside the critical moments of a football tragedy," 8 Aug. 2019 After Clear Falls pieced together three straight points to knot Game 5 at 8-8, a service error and a kill try that sailed wide put the hosts back in front by two. Robert Avery, Houston Chronicle, "Clear Falls opens new volleyball season with defeat in marathon match," 8 Aug. 2019 The conceptual landscaping plan covering both major roadways should be ready in six-to-nine months, according to a staff report, setting the stage for another mail ballot try late next year. Steve Dreyer, Pomerado News, "Poway council orders landscape map in advance of new LMD ballots," 7 Aug. 2019 The other ways of scoring include a conversion kick for two more points after a team has scored with a try. Rod Stafford Hagwood,, "Don’t know anything about rugby? Doesn’t matter. You can still play on the beach this summer.," 2 Aug. 2019 The federal government pushed back on the first two proposals for paying for the program, and sponsors dragged the third try across the finish line during the final days of the 2019 legislative session. Anna Staver, The Denver Post, "Colorado gets federal OK for program expected to lower marketplace health care premiums 18%," 31 July 2019 Another noteworthy try is the Soo Grand Cru (6.7%), a Belgian witbier with plenty of orange up front with coriander notes. Brian Manzullo, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan's Upper Peninsula: The top 7 breweries you must visit," 24 July 2019

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


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 3a


1832, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for try


Middle English trien, from Anglo-French trier to select, sort, examine, determine, probably from Late Latin tritare to grind, frequentative of Latin terere to rub — more at throw entry 1

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Statistics for try

Last Updated

18 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for try

The first known use of try was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for try



English Language Learners Definition of try

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to make an effort to do something : to attempt to accomplish or complete something
: to do or use (something) in order to see if it works or will be successful
: to do or use (something) in order to find out if you like it



English Language Learners Definition of try (Entry 2 of 2)

: an effort or attempt to do something
rugby : a play in which points are scored by touching the ground with the ball behind the opponent's goal line


\ ˈtrī How to pronounce try (audio) \
tried\ ˈtrīd \; trying

Kids Definition of try

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to make an effort or attempt at He tries to remain calm. Try calling her.
2 : to put to a test Have you ever tried artichokes? You might try this key in the lock.
3 : to examine or investigate in a court of law They were tried for murder.
4 : to conduct the trial of An experienced judge will try the case.
5 : to test to the limit The children are trying my patience.
try on
: to put on (a garment) to test the fit
try out
: to compete to fill a part (as on an athletic team or in a play)


plural tries

Kids Definition of try (Entry 2 of 2)

: an effort to do something : attempt It took several tries, but I finally scored.

Medical Definition of Try


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tried; trying

Legal Definition of try

1 : to examine or investigate judicially no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common lawU.S. Constitution amend. VII in an action tried on the facts without a juryFederal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 52(a)
2 : to conduct the trial of : put on trial
3 : to participate as lawyer or counsel in the trial of : bring to trial on behalf of a client was unqualified to try death penalty cases

History and Etymology for try

Anglo-French trier to choose, sort, ascertain, examine judicially, from Old French, to choose, sort

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More from Merriam-Webster on try

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for try

Spanish Central: Translation of try

Nglish: Translation of try for Spanish Speakers

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

Comments on try

What made you want to look up try? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a usually brief trip or an expedition

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