try on

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English[edit]

A girl trying on a lion costume before a mirror

Pronunciation[edit]

  • (file)

Verb[edit]

try on (third-person singular simple present tries on, present participle trying on, simple past and past participle tried on)

  1. (transitive) To test the look or fit of (a garment) by wearing it.
    • c. 1601, Gervase Markham, The Dumb Knight, London: John Bache, 1608, Act III,[1]
      Fore God it is a delicate fine suite, rich stuffe, rare worke, and of the newest fashion; nay if the Senats businesse were neuer so hasty, I will stay to try it on, come, help good wenches helpe, so there, there there.
    • 1763, Arthur Murphy, The Citizen, London: G. Kearsly, Act II, Scene 1, p. 27,[2]
      Who is this fellow, Corinna? Some journeyman taylor, I suppose, who chuses to try on the gentleman’s cloaths before he carries them home—
    • 1868, Louisa May Alcott, Little Women, Chapter 19,[3]
      [] Amy tried on the blue ring with a delighted face and a firm resolve to earn it.
    • 1929, Thomas Wolfe, Look Homeward, Angel, New York: Scribner, Part Two, Chapter 17, p. 188,[4]
      “It would be a pity to throw away a good pair of shoes,” she said. “Try ’em on, boy.”
  2. (transitive, slang) To attempt; to undertake.
    • 1861, Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, Chapter 25,[5]
      “He says, and gives it out publicly, “I want to see the man who’ll rob me.” Lord bless you, I have heard him, a hundred times, if I have heard him once, say to regular cracksmen in our front office, “You know where I live; now, no bolt is ever drawn there; why don’t you do a stroke of business with me? Come; can’t I tempt you?” Not a man of them, sir, would be bold enough to try it on, for love or money.”
    • 1953, Mary Renault, The Charioteer, New York: Pantheon, 1959, Chapter 2, p. 26,[6]
      He could have feigned noncomprehension, but with Lanyon one didn’t try anything on.

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