Definitions

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

  • intransitive verb To allow to drag or stream behind, as along the ground.
  • intransitive verb To drag (the body, for example) wearily or heavily.
  • intransitive verb To follow the traces or scent of, as in hunting; track.
  • intransitive verb To follow the course taken by; pursue.
  • intransitive verb To follow behind.
  • intransitive verb To lag behind (an opponent).
  • intransitive verb To drag or be dragged along, brushing the ground.
  • intransitive verb To extend, grow, or droop loosely over a surface.
  • intransitive verb To drift in a thin stream.
  • intransitive verb To become gradually fainter; dwindle.
  • intransitive verb To walk or proceed with dragging steps; trudge.
  • intransitive verb To be behind in competition; lag.
  • noun A marked or beaten path, as through woods or wilderness.
  • noun An overland route.
  • noun A marked course through one or more bodies of water, as for recreational boaters or divers.
  • noun A mark, trace, course, or path left by a moving body.
  • noun The scent of a person or animal.
  • noun Something that is drawn along or follows behind; a train.
  • noun A succession of things that come afterward or are left behind.
  • noun Something that hangs loose and long.
  • noun The part of a gun carriage that rests or slides on the ground.
  • noun The act of trailing.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A rail with a cross-section having approximately the form of a letter T. See rail, 5.
  • noun A latticed frame; a trellis for running or climbing plants.
  • noun A running ornament or enrichment of leaves, flowers, tendrils, etc., as in the hollow moldings of Gothic architecture; a wreath.
  • To overspread with a tracery or intertwining pattern or ornament.
  • noun A part dragged behind; something drawn after; a train; a rear appendage.
  • noun A trailing part or organ; a train: as, the trail of the peacock: often used figuratively.
  • noun 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.
  • noun 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.
  • noun 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.
  • noun The track or mark left by something dragged or drawn along the ground or over a surface: as, the trail of a snail.
  • noun 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.
  • noun Figuratively, a clue; a trace.
  • noun A vehicle dragged along; a drag; a sled; a sledge.
  • noun The act of playing upon, or of taking advantage of, a person's ignorance. See trail, verb, 6.
  • noun Synonyms Path, Track, etc. See way.
  • 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.

Etymologies

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

[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.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Latin trahere, to drag along

Examples

Comments

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  • 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

  • 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 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

  • Tests someone's Endurance or patients

    July 8, 2014