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 Her bid for a new trial was based on new evidence developed by a team of lawyers at the Loyola Law School Project for the Innocent, which took on her case in 2015. Greg Moran, San Diego Union-Tribune, 16 May 2022 Subscriptions for four items per month begin at $69 for a trial month, $85 per month for a two-month trial for eight items per month, and $149 per month for two months for 16 items per month. Jasmine Washington, Seventeen, 16 May 2022 Heard was back on the stand as the trial resumed in a Virginia courtroom after a one-week hiatus. Matthew Barakat, ajc, 16 May 2022 The civil trial began on May 10, and is set to last for seven days. Emily Burack, Town & Country, 16 May 2022 George Wagner IV's trial is tentatively set to begin Aug. 29. Quinlan Bentley, The Enquirer, 16 May 2022 And while this case is the first real test for Durham's prosecution team, Cooper likely will also be scrutinized over his rulings throughout the trial. Robert Legare, CBS News, 16 May 2022 The trial capped a decades-long family drama involving Donovan and several of his family members, including his son, the late John Donovan Jr., involving millions of dollars and valuable property on the North Shore. Globe Staff,, 16 May 2022 Jury selection in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting case entered the second of three phases Monday, with lawyers looking to weed out those whose views on the death penalty are too inflexible to be part of a fair trial. Rafael Olmeda, Sun Sentinel, 16 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Her pre-trial detention in Russia was extended a month last week. Duane Rankin, The Arizona Republic, 17 May 2022 Brittney Griner’s pre-trial detention in Russia was extended through June 18 by a Russian court, according to state media. Emma Hinchliffe, Fortune, 16 May 2022 All-Star Brittney Griner’s pre-trial detention in Russia was extended by one month Friday, her lawyer said. San Francisco Chronicle, 14 May 2022 Brittney Griner's pre-trial detention in Russia was extended by one month on Friday as the United States works to secure the WNBA star's freedom. Deena Zaru, ABC News, 13 May 2022 He has been held in pre-trial detention for 10 months and faces up to six years in prison. Jo-ann Mort, The New Republic, 31 Mar. 2022 Griner's visit with a consular official from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow comes after the State Department expressed concerns over Griner's well-being after Russia extended her pre-trial detention to May 19. Deena Zaru, ABC News, 24 Mar. 2022 While the prosecution formulates its case against the two-time gold medalist and WNBA star, Griner will remain in pre-trial detention until May 19. Chris Bumbaca, USA TODAY, 23 Mar. 2022 The customs service said the American was placed in pre-trial detention and noted a criminal case was opened for smuggling significant amounts of narcotic substances, and the offense carries a punishment of up to 10 years imprisonment. Travis Caldwell, CNN, 10 Mar. 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

18 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Trial.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 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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