\ 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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Choose the Right Synonym for try


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

Lam, who has come under withering criticism for trying to push the extradition legislation through, has pledged to be more responsive to public sentiment. Fox News, "Hong Kong demonstrators smash government building amid protests on anniversary of return of Chinese rule," 2 July 2019 The family decided to cross the Rio Grande after weeks of trying to seek asylum from Mexico. Caroline Linton, CBS News, "Border Patrol searches for missing 2-year-old girl in Rio Grande," 2 July 2019 My younger brother had a baby girl last year, and Mom constantly has her or is trying to get her. Abigail Van Buren, Twin Cities, "Dear Abby: Daughter plays second fiddle to brother with grandchild," 20 June 2019 My younger brother had a baby girl last year, and Mom constantly has her or is trying to get her. Dear Abby,, "Dear Abby: Daughter is convinced her mom has a favorite child -- and it isn’t her," 20 June 2019 Cunningham’s students aren’t the only ones trying to get in touch with their inner boss. Darcel Rockett,, "‘Every kid should have a side hustle’: Why youths should be encouraged to be a boss this summer," 20 June 2019 In the wake of the extradition bill, the umbrellas came out again, as people tried to shield themselves from pepper spray, tear gas, and rubber bullets. Nr Editors, National Review, "The Week," 20 June 2019 When Eleanor tries to comfort June, the conversation turns to painful reflection, with Mrs. Lawrence longing for the man who courted her with mix tapes decades ago. Julie Kosin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Bradley Whitford Is More Confused By His Handmaid's Tale Character Than You," 20 June 2019 In an interview with Fortune, Bill Ho, an analyst at 556 Ventures, said Apple is trying to get a full picture from its suppliers, who actually operate the manufacturing facilities, to see what’s feasible. Don Reisinger, Fortune, "Apple May Move 30% of Its iPhone Production From China. This Analyst Disagrees," 19 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Click through the photos above for a look at must-try restaurants that are challenging cookie-cutter chains in Katy... Rebecca Hennes, Houston Chronicle, "Where to eat: Katy's blazing restaurant scene challenges cookie-cutter chains," 5 July 2019 Nightmare is what happens when your subconscious tries to warn you about what really happened in the past. Denise Davidsonwriter, San Diego Union-Tribune, "In Karen Lord’s ‘Unraveling,’ new worlds and characters abound," 30 June 2019 But then came Know Your Enemy, an awkward record that aimed to recapture the punk ethos of the Richey years; listening to it was gruesomely compelling, like watching a paunchy thirty-five-year old try to pull on an old pair of jeans. Longreads, "Manic Street Preachers’ Album The Holy Bible," 25 June 2019 Inevitably, the second-chance try goes in, providing the height of anticlimax. Bruce Jenkins,, "World Cup’s VAR replay system tarnishes a great event," 25 June 2019 The controversy continues to simmer even as some party faithful try to downplay the intra-party sniping ahead of this weekend’s Democratic party cattle call in Columbia, S.C. Kirk Brown, USA TODAY, "Biden's comments on segregationist Senators loom over big weekend for South Carolina Dems," 21 June 2019 The One Thing to Say About It at a Dinner Party: While plenty try to draw comparisons, the US approach to North Korea is in no way similar to its approach to Iran, the other big nuclear threat Washington sees out there. Ian Bremmer, Time, "The Quick Read About… President Xi Jinping’s Trip to North Korea," 20 June 2019 Here are seven techniques to try next time a panic attack tries to make your life hell. Cassie Shortsleeve, SELF, "8 Ways to Make Panic Attacks a Little More Bearable," 5 June 2019 For a first try, the process can take about a year. Marcy Oster,, "Organization is working to make a Torah emoji happen," 5 June 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

7 Jul 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

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