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

  • n. A visible trail of streaks of condensed water vapor or ice crystals sometimes forming in the wake of an aircraft. Also called vapor trail.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An artificial cloud made by the exhaust of jet aircraft or wingtip vortices that precipitate a stream of tiny ice crystals in moist, frigid upper air.

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

  • n. an artificial cloud created by an aircraft; caused either by condensation due to the reduction in air pressure above the wing surface or by water vapor in the engine exhaust


con(densation) + trail.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Blend of condensation and trail (Wiktionary)



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • One of my favourite contrails.

    November 25, 2007

  • Soft, distant thunder.
    From silvery sky-speck glints,
    Silent contrails drift

    March 10, 2007

  • "CONdensation trail". We've all seen 'em. Did you know how they were made? Condensation, when conditions (primarily altitude)are just right, around particulate matter emitted by the jet engines. They contribute significantly to cloudiness in general in the skies. When virtually all planes were grounded after the 9/11 event, scientists were able to briefly, uniquely, study just how much of a contribution contrails are to atmospheric dynamics.

    January 31, 2007