from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To make an effort to do or accomplish (something); attempt.
  • intransitive verb To taste, sample, or otherwise test in order to determine strength, effect, worth, or desirability.
  • intransitive verb To make an effort to open (a closed door or window).
  • intransitive verb To conduct the trial of (a legal claim).
  • intransitive verb To put (an accused person) on trial.
  • intransitive verb To subject to great strain or hardship; tax.
  • intransitive verb To melt (lard, for example) to separate out impurities; render.
  • intransitive verb To make an effort; strive.
  • noun An attempt; an effort.
  • noun Sports In Rugby, an act of advancing the ball past the opponent's goal line and grounding it there for a score of three points.
  • idiom (try (one's) hand) To attempt to do something for the first time.
  • idiom (try (one's) fortune) To make an effort or take a risk to be successful, especially as a newcomer.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The act of trying; a trial; experiment; effort.
  • noun In foot-ball, in the Rugby game, the right to carry the ball in front of the goal and try to kick a goal. When goals are equal, the game is decided by the majority of tries.
  • noun A sieve; riddle; screen.
  • To separate, as what is good from what is bad; separate by sifting; sift.
  • Hence— To select; cull; pick out.
  • To ascertain by sifting or examination.
  • To separate (metal) from the ore or dross by melting; refine; assay.
  • To separate or reduce by boiling or steaming; render: generally with out: as, to try out lard or blubber.
  • To put to the test or proof; subject to experimental treatment, comparison with a standard, or the like, in order to determine the truth, accuracy, power, strength, speed, fitness, or other quality of; test; prove: as, to try weights and measures; to try a new invention; to try conclusions; to try one's patience, or one's luck.
  • To use, apply, or practise tentatively; experiment with: as, to try a new remedy; also, to experiment upon; treat tentatively.
  • To endeavor experimentally to find out.
  • To experience; have knowledge of by experience.
  • To undertake; attempt; essay.
  • To examine judicially; bring or set before a court with evidence or argument, or both, for a final judicial determination; submit to the examination and decision or sentence of a judicial tribunal: as, to try a case; to try a prisoner.
  • To bring to a decision; determine; settle; hence, to decide by combat.
  • To bear hardly upon; subject to trials or suffering; afflict: as, the family has been sorely tried.
  • To strain: as, to try the eyes.
  • To incite to wrong; tempt; solicit.
  • To invite; escort.
  • In joinery, to dress with a trying-plane. See trying-plane.
  • To attempt; undertake.
  • To exert strength; make an effort; endeavor; attempt: as, to try for a situation.
  • To find or show what a person or a thing is; prove by experience; make or hold a trial.
  • Nautical, to lie to in a gale under storm-sails so as to keep a ship's bow to the sea.
  • In angling, to fish again over a pool or stream where the fish have refused to bite before, as with a different cast of flies, from another direction with regard to the wind or sun, etc.: also used transitively: as, to try back the water.
  • Hence— To transude, or ooze out, as sweat: as, the perspiration is trying out of him.
  • Synonyms To seek, essay, strive.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • intransitive verb To exert strength; to endeavor; to make an effort or an attempt.
  • intransitive verb Prov. Eng. To do; to fare; !
  • transitive verb obsolete To divide or separate, as one sort from another; to winnow; to sift; to pick out; -- frequently followed by out.
  • transitive verb To purify or refine, as metals; to melt out, and procure in a pure state, as oil, tallow, lard, etc.
  • transitive verb To prove by experiment; to apply a test to, for the purpose of determining the quality; to examine; to prove; to test.


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

[Middle English trien, to pick out, separate (right from wrong), test, attempt, from Old French trier, to pick out; akin to Provençal and Catalan triar, to pick out, of unknown origin.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English trien ("to try a legal case"), from Anglo-Norman trier ("to try a case"), Old French trier ("to choose, pick out or separate from others, sift, cull"), of uncertain origin. Believed to be a metathetic variation of Old French tirer ("to pull out, snatch"), from Gothic *𐍄𐌹𐍂𐌰𐌽 (tiran, "to tear away, remove"), from Proto-Germanic *tiranan, *tirōnan (“to tear, tear apart”), from Proto-Indo-European *derə- (“to tear, tear apart”), see tear. Related to Occitan triar ("to pick out, choose from among others").


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  • The topic has come up a lot and the people I talk to tend to argue for the \'not enough time\ 'conundrum and I try to get them to just \'try it\' for a while.

    James M. Lynch: Free Life Course: The Game Of Life 2010

  • But I try - *try* - to extend the person a good long silken rope before I hang them.

    The Illuminated Crowd 2008

  • "She's been there two weeks, and I haven't seen them try -- really _try_ -- to communicate with her."

    Asimov's Science Fiction 2005

  • I try, but * try* really is the operative word here.

    rainandfire Diary Entry rainandfire 2001

  • Just let any one try to stop his course, his readiness for snapping fingers at The Job; just let them _try_ it, that was all he wanted!

    Our Mr. Wrenn, the Romantic Adventures of a Gentle Man Sinclair Lewis 1918

  • Why, yes, certainly; and I will try -- oh, I will _try_ not to disturb you again.

    The Sleeping-Car, a farce William Dean Howells 1878

  • "Let me try one branch for an experiment -- I _will try_ one branch!"

    Tales and Novels — Volume 01 Maria Edgeworth 1808

  • ~MyClass () printf ( "Myclass dtor\r\n"); int _tmain (int argc, _TCHAR* argv []) try printf ( "in __try block\r\n");

    Site Home 2010

  • apparently, they have revamp their website to version 3! thanks for the info~ juz checked it out~ now will show ur uploaded files first instead of the upload page~ last time upload not beri stable one~ dun noe got improve arnots~ me uploot TNN beedeo let sonic gorgor laoloot try try~ Reviews Ows 2009

  • "My dear, dear child, try, _try_ to conquer the propensity!

    Elsie's Kith and Kin Martha Finley 1868


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  • Citation on doughnut.

    July 26, 2008

  • Quirk of grammar: this enters into a construction where it can't (standardly) be inflected—no 'tried', 'trying', not even third person singular 'tries', just plain 'try'.

    I try and jog every day.

    They try and jog every day.

    I intend to try and jog every day.


    *She/he tries and jog(s?) every day.

    *I tried and jog(ged?) yesterday.

    *I insist on trying and jog(ging?).

    I have in fact read and heard attempts at using it in an inflected situation, but they're clearly non-standard. Oddly, it's only 'try and' that suffers from this foible: both 'try to' and 'go and' behave fine. 'Go and' is the more relevant because the 'and' makes the two verbs inflect the same way: 'I went and jogged yesterday', 'I insist on going and jogging'.

    I should change the example. I've never jogged in my life; I've never even tried.

    January 9, 2009

  • The 'try and' construction always struck me as odd anyway, since normally two verbs combined with and retain separate meanings (so to speak): stand and deliver, and so on. Even 'I shall go and see him' means something like 'I shall go to him and (accordingly) I shall see him'. (It's true that 'Whatever did you have to go and do that for?' isn't so neat, but I think that's because it's generally tricky to say exactly what job the go is doing in that example.)

    January 9, 2009

  • "try and" irritates me for just the reason VanishedOne describes: "and" should be for two separate verbs, and usually "try to" is what is meant. Looking at qroqqa's examples:

    I try to jog every day.

    They try to jog every day.

    I intend to try to jog every day.

    She/he tries to jog every day.

    I tried to jog yesterday.

    I insist on trying to jog.

    I change "try and" whenever it turns up in something I'm editing. This is a peeve on par with "whether or not," which much of the time should be simply "whether."

    January 9, 2009

  • What c_b said. 'try and' is an abomination.

    January 10, 2009

  • C_b, what do you think of "go and"? "I'll go and tell her you're here." v. "I'll go tell her you're here."

    January 10, 2009

  • "Go and" is fine for subtly emphasising that the task isn't a "nothing job" - you have to go before you do. Sometimes it's a little passive-aggressive, perhaps, though I think there are plenty of legitimate reasons for adding this emphasis. E.g., in the sentence "I'll go and see if there's any mail", "go and" validates the sentence: if you didn't have to go, you'd just see, and not bother saying it in the first place.

    January 10, 2009

  • Aside: Amen on the "whether" thing, c_b.

    January 10, 2009

  • "I'll go tell her you're here" is much better than "I'll go and tell her..." You don't need the "and." If you don't need it, why say it?

    "Needless to say..." Gah!

    Yarb, in your example, "go and see" is fine, implying that you are going away, outside, a long distance, etc. That makes sense. "Try and see" is just dumb.

    Besides--do, or do not. There is no try.

    January 10, 2009

  • "I'll go tell her" is US usage, "I'll go and tell her" is usual in the UK.

    January 10, 2009

  • The AHD definition for the "rugby play" sense is out of date -- a try in rugby union is worth 5 points, and in rugby league a try is worth 4 points. In wheelchair rugby, a try is worth 1 point, unless it's wheelchair rugby league, in which case it's worth 4 points. Try_(rugby) from Wikipedia

    May 22, 2024

  • I confess I did not have Erin marked as a rugby fan!

    May 23, 2024