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”).
- (transitive) To follow behind (someone or something); to tail (someone or something).
- The hunters trailed their prey deep into the woods.
- (transitive) To drag (something) behind on the ground.
- 1896, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Poetical Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, page 287:
- Our little life is but a gust That bends the branches of thy tree, And trails its blossoms in the dust!
- You'll get your coat all muddy if you trail it around like that.
- 1922 October 26, Virginia Woolf, chapter 1, in Jacob’s Room, Richmond, London: […] Leonard & Virginia Woolf at the Hogarth Press, OCLC 19736994; republished London: The Hogarth Press, 1960, OCLC 258624721:
- "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.
- (transitive) To leave (a trail of).
- He walked into the house, soaking wet, and trailed water all over the place.
- (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.
- (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.
- 1871, The Divine Tragedy, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:
- Even now I behold a sign, A threatening of wrath divine, A watery, wandering star, through whose streaming hair, and the white Unfolding garments of light, That trail behind it afar, The constellations shine!
- (intransitive) To run or climb like certain plants.
- (intransitive) To drag oneself lazily or reluctantly along.
- Our parents marched to church and we trailed behind.
- 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.
- (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.
- To create a trail in.
- 1893 August, Mary Hartwell Catherwood, “The White Islander”, in The Century:
- The sun shone on burnished bodies and arm-bands, and robes of beaver trailed the grass as majestic fellows trod back and forth in the passion of eloquence.
- 1929, Frank Proctor, Fox Hunting in Canada and Some Men who Made it, page 162:
- […] was no mean judge of racing and, having a suspicion of the possible result, she secreted a lemon in the commodious recesses of a dress which, while the height of fashion in those times, nevertheless trailed the grass.
- 1975, Federal Procedural Forms, Lawyers Edition - Volume 14, page 241:
- Because of the potential damages caused by social trailing, regulations stipulate that all permits are void when a group obtains multiple permits for the same campground or use area for the same night.
- 1999, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, page 2-19:
- The monument would use the floowing indicators to determine when and where visitor allocations need to be made: (1) resource damage (e.g., proliferation of campsites, human waste problems, social trailing or vandalism to historical, archaeological, paleontological sites, or destruction of biological soil crusts), […]
- 2018, Amy E. Weldon, The Writer's Eye, page 77:
- In my mind's eye, I looked down at the toes of high-topped, lace-up leather boots, peeking from under a long brown skirt that bent the grass sideways as it trailed the ground and tented gently outward with every step.
- To travel by following or creating trails.
- 1906, The Quarterly of the Oregon Historical Society, page 352:
- Trailed three miles down the North side and encamped early, making thirteen miles trailed to-day.
- 1915, Jacob Van der Zee, Early History of Lead Mining in the Iowa Country, page 8:
- In accordance with the treaty of 1842 they crossed the Missouri River to a reservation in Kansas. Poor crops, however, and a feverish climate made them unhappy in their new home: they trailed back to Iowa.
- 1935, Ernest Hemmingway, Green Hills of Africa, page 164:
- But we did not see him and now, in the big heat of noon, we made three long circles around some hills and finally came out into a meadow full of little, humpy Masai cattle and, leaving all shade behind, trailed back across the open country under the noon sun to the car.
- 1982, David Lavender, Colorado River Country, page 144:
- That control became visible each spring when they trailed back out of the low country to summer range.
- To transport (livestock) by herding it along a trail.
- 1939, Pacific Stockman - Volumes 5-7:
- One operator on the Boise Forest in Idaho reports that where he formerly marketed 80-pound lambs after trailing them 10 days from the allotment, his lambs now often tip the scales at 100 pounds or better, mainly because only one day is required to transport an entire shipment to the railroad through the use of truck pullmans.
- 1956, John O. Bye, Back Trailing in the Heart of the Short-grass Country, page 6:
- Genesis, the first book of the Holy Bible, relates the earliest known instance of cattle being trailed to better grass lands (unless Noah's trip with the ark is one).
- 1989, John Solomon Otto, The Southern Frontiers, 1607-1860, page 53:
- The most impressive long-distance traders, however, were the backcountry drovers, who trailed herds of livestock up the wagon road to Philadelphia (Merrens 1964:135; Bridenbaugh 1971:138).
- 2008, Ron Kay, Ron Kay's Guide to Zion National Park, page 78:
- In all areas where trails are present, stock must remain on the trails. Free trailing or loose herding is not permitted.
- (dated) To take advantage of the ignorance of; to impose upon.
trail (plural trails)
- 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.
- A route for travel over land, especially a narrow, unpaved pathway for use by hikers, horseback riders, etc.
- A route or circuit generally.
- Politicians are on the campaign trail in preparation for this year's election.
- (television) A trailer broadcast on television for a forthcoming film or programme.
- (graph theory) A walk in which all the edges are distinct.
- The horizontal distance from where the wheel touches the ground to where the steering axis intersects the ground.
- → German: Trail
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trail f (plural trails)