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English Wikipedia has articles on:


From Middle English trailen, from Old French trailler (to tow; pick up the scent of a quarry), from Vulgar Latin *tragulāre (to drag), from Latin tragula (dragnet, javelin thrown by a strap), probably related to Latin trahere (to pull, drag along).


  • enPR: trāl, IPA(key): /tɹeɪl/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -eɪl


trail (third-person singular simple present trails, present participle trailing, simple past and past participle trailed)

  1. (transitive) To follow behind (someone or something); to tail (someone or something).
    The hunters trailed their prey deep into the woods.
  2. (transitive) To drag (something) behind on the ground.
    You'll get your coat all muddy if you trail it around like that.
    • 1922, Virginia Woolf, Jacob's Room Chapter 1
      "I saw your brother—I saw your brother," he said, nodding his head, as Archer lagged past him, trailing his spade, and scowling at the old gentleman in spectacles.
  3. (transitive) To leave (a trail of).
    He walked into the house, soaking wet, and trailed water all over the place.
  4. (transitive) To show a trailer of (a film, TV show etc.); to release or publish a preview of (a report etc.) in advance of the full publication.
    His new film was trailed on TV last night.
    There were no surprises in this morning's much-trailed budget statement.
  5. (intransitive) To hang or drag loosely behind; to move with a slow sweeping motion.
    The bride's long dress trailed behind her as she walked down the aisle.
  6. (intransitive) To run or climb like certain plants.
  7. (intransitive) To drag oneself lazily or reluctantly along.
    Our parents marched to church and we trailed behind.
  8. To be losing, to be behind in a competition.
    • 2011 December 29, Keith Jackson, “SPL: Celtic 1 Rangers 0”, in Daily Record:
      Neil Lennon and his players have, in almost no time at all, roared back from trailing Rangers by 15 points in November to ending the year two points clear.
  9. (military) To carry (a firearm) with the breech near the ground and the upper part inclined forward, the piece being held by the right hand near the middle.
  10. To flatten (grass, etc.) by walking through it; to tread down.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Longfellow to this entry?)
  11. (dated) To take advantage of the ignorance of; to impose upon.
    • 1847, Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
      I presently perceived she was (what is vernacularly termed) trailing Mrs. Dent; that is, playing on her ignorance.

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English Wikipedia has an article on:

trail (plural trails)

  1. The track or indication marking the route followed by something that has passed, such as the footprints of animal on land or the contrail of an airplane in the sky.
  2. A route for travel over land, especially a narrow, unpaved pathway for use by hikers, horseback riders, etc.
  3. A trailer broadcast on television for a forthcoming film or programme.
  4. (graph theory) A walk in which all the edges are distinct.


Derived terms[edit]


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trail f (plural trails)

  1. Dual-sport motorcycle
  2. Trail running