Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To allow to drag or stream behind, as along the ground: The dog ran off, trailing its leash.
  • transitive v. To drag (the body, for example) wearily or heavily.
  • transitive v. To follow the traces or scent of, as in hunting; track.
  • transitive v. To follow the course taken by; pursue: trail a fugitive.
  • transitive v. To follow behind: several cruisers trailed by an escorting destroyer.
  • transitive v. To lag behind (an opponent): trailed the league leader by four games.
  • intransitive v. To drag or be dragged along, brushing the ground: The queen's long robe trailed behind.
  • intransitive v. To extend, grow, or droop loosely over a surface: vines trailing through the garden.
  • intransitive v. To drift in a thin stream: smoke trailing from a dying fire.
  • intransitive v. To become gradually fainter; dwindle: His voice trailed off in confusion.
  • intransitive v. To walk or proceed with dragging steps; trudge.
  • intransitive v. To be behind in competition; lag: trailing by two goals in the second period.
  • n. A marked or beaten path, as through woods or wilderness.
  • n. An overland route: the pioneers' trail across the prairies.
  • n. A mark, trace, course, or path left by a moving body.
  • n. The scent of a person or animal: The dogs lost the trail of the fox.
  • n. Something that is drawn along or follows behind; a train: The mayor was followed by a trail of reporters.
  • n. A succession of things that come afterward or are left behind: left a trail of broken promises.
  • n. Something that hangs loose and long: Trails of ticker tape floated down from office windows.
  • n. The part of a gun carriage that rests or slides on the ground.
  • n. The act of trailing.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To follow behind (someone or something); to tail (someone or something).
  • v. To drag (something) behind on the ground.
  • v. To leave (a trail of).
  • v. 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.
  • v. To be losing, to be behind in a competition.
  • n. 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.
  • n. A route for travel over land, especially a narrow, unpaved pathway for use by hikers, horseback riders, etc.
  • n. A trailer broadcast on television for a forthcoming film or programme.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • a kind of rail for railroad tracks, having no flange at the bottom so that a section resembles the letter T.
  • See under T.
  • n. A track left by man or beast; a track followed by the hunter; a scent on the ground by the animal pursued.
  • n. A footpath or road track through a wilderness or wild region.
  • n. Anything drawn out to a length
  • n. Anything drawn behind in long undulations; a train.
  • n. Anything drawn along, as a vehicle.
  • n. A frame for trailing plants; a trellis.
  • n. The entrails of a fowl, especially of game, as the woodcock, and the like; -- applied also, sometimes, to the entrails of sheep.
  • n. That part of the stock of a gun carriage which rests on the ground when the piece is unlimbered. See Illust. of Gun carriage, under Gun.
  • n. The act of taking advantage of the ignorance of a person; an imposition.
  • intransitive v. To be drawn out in length; to follow after.
  • intransitive v. To grow to great length, especially when slender and creeping upon the ground, as a plant; to run or climb.
  • transitive v.
  • transitive v. To hunt by the track; to track.
  • transitive v. to follow behind.
  • transitive v. To pursue.
  • transitive v. To draw or drag, as along the ground.
  • transitive v. To carry, as 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.
  • transitive v. To tread down, as grass, by walking through it; to lay flat.
  • transitive v. To take advantage of the ignorance of; to impose upon.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To fasten (as wagons) one behind the other so as to form a train.
  • In casino, to play a card which neither builds nor takes in anything.
  • To draw along behind.
  • To drag or draw loosely along the ground or other surface, as the train of a woman's dress.
  • Milit., to carry in an oblique forward position, with the breech or the butt near the ground, the piece or the pike being held by the right hand near the middle: as, to trail arms.
  • To beat down or make a beaten path through by frequent treading; make a beaten path through: as, to trail grass.
  • To hunt or follow up by the track or scent; follow in the trail or tracks of; track.
  • To draw out; lead on, especially in a mischievous or ill-natured way; play upon the ignorance or fears of.
  • To hang down or drag loosely behind, as the train of a woman's dress.
  • To grow loosely and without self-support to a considerable length along the ground or over bushes, rocks, or other low objects; recline or droop and as it were drag upon the ground, as a branch. See trailing plant, below.
  • To move with a slow sweeping motion.
  • To loiter or creep along as a straggler or a person who is nearly tired out; walk or make one's way idly or lazily.
  • To reach or extend in a straggling way.
  • To fish with or from a trailer: as, to trail for mackerel.
  • To overspread with a tracery or intertwining pattern or ornament.
  • n. A local term in southern England for confused deposits of glacial debris resting upon soft sands, clays, etc., which latter have been crumpled and squeezed by ice-pressure.
  • n. unsorted glacial or related deposits containing human implements ana resting upon a preglacial surface in southern England called the ‘Palæolithic floor.’ See trail, 6.
  • n. A part dragged behind; something drawn after; a train; a rear appendage.
  • n. A trailing part or organ; a train: as, the trail of the peacock: often used figuratively.
  • n. In artillery, the lower end of the carriage; in field-artillery, that part of the carriage which reats on the ground when unlimbered. See cut under gun-carriage.
  • n. Any long appendage, real or apparent, as a line or streak marking the path just passed over by a moving body: as, the trail of a meteor; a trail of smoke.
  • n. In astronomy, the elongated image of a star produced upon a photographic plate, which is not made to follow the star's diurnal motion. The intensity of this trail is used as a measure of the star's brightness.
  • n. The track or mark left by something dragged or drawn along the ground or over a surface: as, the trail of a snail.
  • n. A path or road mȧde by the passage of something, as of animals or men; a beaten path, as across the prairies, a mountain, or a desert; a rude path.
  • n. Figuratively, a clue; a trace.
  • n. A vehicle dragged along; a drag; a sled; a sledge.
  • n. The act of playing upon, or of taking advantage of, a person's ignorance. See trail, verb, 6.
  • n. Synonyms Path, Track, etc. See way.
  • n. A latticed frame; a trellis for running or climbing plants.
  • n. A running ornament or enrichment of leaves, flowers, tendrils, etc., as in the hollow moldings of Gothic architecture; a wreath.
  • n. Entrails; the intestines of game when cooked and sent to table, as those of snipe and woodcock, and certain fish; also, the intestines of sheep.
  • n. A rail with a cross-section having approximately the form of a letter T. See rail, 5.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. hang down so as to drag along the ground
  • v. move, proceed, or walk draggingly or slowly
  • v. drag loosely along a surface; allow to sweep the ground
  • n. a path or track roughly blazed through wild or hilly country
  • n. evidence pointing to a possible solution
  • v. to lag or linger behind
  • n. a track or mark left by something that has passed
  • v. go after with the intent to catch

Etymologies

Middle English trailen, probably from Old French trailler, to hunt without a foreknown course, from Vulgar Latin *trāgulāre, to make a deer double back and forth, perhaps alteration (influenced by Latin trāgula, dragnet) of Latin trahere, to pull, draw.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Latin trahere, to drag along (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • Tests someone's Endurance or patients

    July 8, 2014

  • In glassmaking, a strand of glass, roughly circular in section, drawn out from a gather. Trailing is the process of applying trails as decoration on the body, handle, or foot of a vessel by laying or winding softened threads on it during production.

    November 9, 2007

  • Cool stuff! So there must be a whole list (hint) of commands for the 18th-century Art of Blowing Up S***.

    October 17, 2007

  • In an archaic military sense, the hinder end of the stock of a gun-carriage, which rests or slides on the ground when the carriage is unlimbered. When moving the gun by hand, the gun crew is ordered to lift with the command "Up trail!" (or trails) and to let the gun trail rest with the command "Down trail!"

    October 17, 2007