try

1 of 2

verb

tried; trying

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
2
a
: 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
3
a
: 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
4
a
: 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

2 of 2

noun

plural tries
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
Phrases
try one's hand
: to attempt something for the first time
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

Verb 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. Noun was granted another try at the field goal
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
International distributors certainly won’t have the option of trying to disguise Horizon as anything other than a Western. Scott Roxborough, The Hollywood Reporter, 13 May 2024 Boston forward Pat Maroon already tried to fight Bennett, who declined. Jordan McPherson, Miami Herald, 13 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for try 

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

Word History

Etymology

Verb

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

First Known Use

Verb

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

Noun

1832, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near try

Cite this Entry

“Try.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/try. Accessed 24 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

try

1 of 2 verb
tried; trying
1
: to make an effort to do
I'll try to do my best
2
a
: to examine or investigate in a court of law
try a case
b
: to conduct the trial of
3
a
: to put to a test
try out something new
try your luck
b
: to test to the limit
you're trying my patience
4
: to melt down (as tallow) and obtain in a pure state : render
try out whale oil from blubber

try

2 of 2 noun
plural tries
: an effort to do something : attempt

Medical Definition

Try

abbreviation
tryptophan

Legal Definition

try

transitive verb
tried; trying
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
Etymology

Transitive verb

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

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