Meaning of trail in English:


Pronunciation /treɪl/

See synonyms for trail

Translate trail into Spanish


  • 1A mark or a series of signs or objects left behind by the passage of someone or something.

    ‘a trail of blood on the grass’
    • ‘the torrential rain left a trail of devastation’
    • ‘The place where the terrorists executed the men on the first day is still marked by trails of dry blood.’
    • ‘Seth grew absolutely still as she stomped off, blood marking her trail in tiny drops.’
    • ‘On the doorknob was a bloody hand print, there was also a trail of drag marks lagging behind it.’
    • ‘Leaving a trail of devastation behind him, a disgruntled store owner rampaged through a small Colorado town smashing buildings and cars with a makeshift armoured bulldozer.’
    • ‘Gardeners are near the end of their tether because of youngsters rampaging through their allotment, leaving a trail of devastation behind them.’
    • ‘In earlier models of illness, disease was mobile, a sum of the trail of symptoms that marked its passage through the inside and outside of the body.’
    • ‘The earlier DNA sample had been taken from a trail of blood left behind when he cut himself smashing the cash office window.’
    • ‘But the man she loved was gone, leaving behind a trail of blood.’
    • ‘His breathing was quick and huffing, as if he'd just ran 4000 miles, and a small trail of blood trailed from his open mouth.’
    • ‘A trail of blood, glass and displaced dust marked his passage through the unused building.’
    • ‘It took him an hour to crawl to the door leaving a trail of sweat and blood smears behind him.’
    • ‘The floor and most of the counters were blanketed in a thick snowdrift of flour, marked with trails of footprints where they had walked through it.’
    • ‘The attackers fled leaving a trail of blood and two baseball caps behind them.’
    • ‘He approached the door, the whole time leaving a trail of mudded footprints behind him.’
    • ‘I spotted trails of blood the glass had caused, but ignored them.’
    • ‘Hitler may not have left a paper trail of evidence behind him but his culpability could scarcely be more self-evident.’
    • ‘We'll never know because electronic voting machine don't leave an audit trail.’
    • ‘The winds also left a trail of destruction across Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale.’
    • ‘She was found out by the trail of blood that led to her house.’
    • ‘Tracking and discovering the trail of mathematical footprints is both fascinating and rewarding.’
    • ‘From there they track back to their colony, leaving a scent trail to follow back to the food source.’
    • ‘Giggling I walked down the stairs following the rose petal trail, which led in to the ballroom.’
    series, stream, string, line, chain, row, succession, train
    train, chain, series, sequence, aftermath
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1A track, scent, or other indication used in following someone or hunting an animal.
      ‘police followed his trail to Dorset’
      • ‘In a drag hunt, a field master leads a team on horseback, guided by foxhounds on the trail of an animal scent.’
      • ‘Alexander does it on foot, following meandering game trails and tracking the animals.’
      • ‘They were always scavenging for the latest hint of gossip as if they were ravenous animals on the trail of a wounded deer.’
      • ‘The suspicions of her daughter led police back on the trail of the evil doctor and the will became the first concrete piece of evidence against him.’
      • ‘Police are on the trail of a young woman who cashed dozens of cheques from the 86-year-old over a six-month period.’
      • ‘What has emerged is that the police were on the trail of those who helped the suicide bombers very fast.’
      • ‘Police are on the trail of a burglar who has been plaguing homes in a Southampton suburb.’
      • ‘Police are on the trail of a serial flasher who has been spotted at least four times in the past month exposing himself to women in the area.’
      • ‘Police are on the trail of the ‘landlord’ who was nowhere to be found when the evictions were carried out.’
      • ‘Following her world-record achievement, Gillian is now on the trail of European glory and we wish her further success.’
      • ‘London plainclothes police were on the trail of a suspected member of a terror network when he bolted in a subway.’
      • ‘Ironically, police were put on the trail of the bombers when a relative of one of them reported him missing.’
      • ‘Police are now on the trail of the elusive Mr X, who they believe has just collected a large consignment of the drug.’
      • ‘While keeping her face down she kept on the trail of the guy who she was originally following.’
      • ‘Anyway, getting on the trail of this guy led me to look more closely at the whole anarchist phenomenon - one I'd been aware of, but without any real context.’
      • ‘One arrest made, and London investigators are said to be hot on the trail of others who may have taken part in the bust.’
      • ‘I'm not saying it's impossible that we would have found something, got lucky, and been able to get on the trail of one or more of the hijackers.’
      • ‘He's on the trail of insurance fraud, and neighborhoods like Sheepshead Bay and Brighton Beach are good places to hunt for it.’
      track, spoor, path, scent
      View synonyms
  • 2A long thin part or line stretching behind or hanging down from something.

    ‘smoke trails’
    • ‘we drove down in a trail of tourist cars’
    • ‘trails of ivy’
    • ‘As the fires and pumps began to burn off the remaining water within him, a thin trail of smoke exited his nostrils.’
    • ‘And he was sure that he was just starting to see the thin trails of smoke from his community's cook-fires.’
    • ‘The cigarette dangled from the corner of her red-smudged lips, its burnt and ashy tip sending up thin trails of smoke into the already stuffy air.’
    • ‘I woke in the morning to find the fire reduced to a thin trail of smoke, drifting lazily into the blue sky.’
    • ‘Just as I reached the bottom stop I saw a trail of thin smoke wander into one of the rooms.’
    • ‘Thin trails of smoke curled from its nostrils as it breathed, asleep.’
    • ‘When they fly past leaving behind smoke trails representing the Tricolour, they inspire patriotism and pride among the audience.’
    • ‘It grew bigger and bigger until he could see the trail of smoke behind it.’
    • ‘A thin trail of black feathers drifted down from above.’
    • ‘I can see boats moving up and down the East River leaving a trail of white behind them, and cars crossing the bridges in a never ending stream.’
    • ‘The object had a trail of very thin plasma coming up off of it and coming down below it giving it a shape like a bulbous ice sickle.’
    • ‘Only a thin trail of Ed's bubbles betrays the fact that he is now deep beneath the coral.’
    • ‘Thousands of tiny trails of smoke arced and corkscrewed high into the air and fell back to earth as smoking and glowing debris was hurled away from the mass of flames.’
    • ‘Two white trails of smoke raced towards the first truck.’
    • ‘I listened to the hiss of his skis, watching him disappear in a vapor trail of white smoke.’
    • ‘Bombers did not usually create a vapour trail below 25,000 feet.’
    • ‘Driving home earlier today there were about five or six visible vapour trails in the sky.’
    • ‘Walking tractors sputter amongst the street traffic, producing a trail of black smoke.’
    • ‘A thin trail of smoke trailed from the mouths of the Satyr and Medusa.’
    • ‘It was simply beautiful, with its streaming trail behind it, against a pitch-black sky.’
    wake, tail, stream, slipstream
    line, row, train, file, rank, column, procession, string, chain, array, group, following, entourage, convoy
    View synonyms
  • 3A beaten path through the countryside.

    ‘country parks with nature trails’
    • ‘easy waymarked trails for the casual walker’
    • ‘This may be enough for some, but if you wish to capture hidden aspects of the place you will be visiting you might want to get off the beaten trail.’
    • ‘There was no road here, only a trail of beaten earth, and his horse's hooves fell with a dull, muffled sound.’
    • ‘The cross-country ski trails are just that - with virtually no warming lodges, ski lessons, or rental equipment.’
    • ‘Many hiking trails were opened up by the Aborigines, chiefly for hunting purposes.’
    • ‘By looking at the maps, one is supposed to be able to tell how steep mountain trails are.’
    • ‘Do not try to hike a rocky trail in your tennis shoes.’
    • ‘There are no roads, only narrow trails leading to it.’
    • ‘Only a narrow winding trail led to the outside world.’
    • ‘The 11 travelers speed north on dusty trails running through farmland.’
    • ‘The narrow trail meandered slightly downhill, eventually opening to a small deserted beach.’
    • ‘He mind still raced as she came up the long dirt trail in the woods.’
    • ‘With that confidence, I started exercising on a walking trail near my home.’
    • ‘Among the wilderness and the lakes of the wooded estate lies a sculpture trail, a series of 200 pieces of modern art.’
    • ‘I cut across Frick Park on a short series of icy trails and met the group at their house.’
    • ‘The trails are marked with numbers and posts with colored tape.’
    • ‘All trails are marked and maps can be purchased from local shops.’
    • ‘But the disbanded group pledged money to sponsor the leaflets and pay for the signs for the trail.’
    • ‘The cairns marking the trail looked like early Christian crosses.’
    • ‘There are marked trails all around the mountains, on the ridgelines and down into the valley floors.’
    • ‘He saw the soldiers climbing slowly down a steep, rocky trail.’
    path, beaten path, pathway, way, footpath, track, course, road, route
    View synonyms
    1. 3.1A route followed for a particular purpose.
      ‘the hotel is well off the tourist trail’
      • ‘With him will be the Vietnam veterans, the rock stars and the celebrities who have followed the campaign trail for months.’
      • ‘Even when unashamedly following the tourist trail, though, it is often better to take the more adventurous options.’
      • ‘He followed him on the campaign trail earlier this year also.’
      • ‘Comedy on the campaign trail as father aims to be the first MP to follow his son into the Commons’
      • ‘Soon, with the help of a camera crew that has been following him on the campaign trail, he is addressing the world.’
      • ‘I thought it would make a great documentary to follow Ingrid on the campaign trail.’
      • ‘Thus, the campaign trail is not taking its proper course.’
      • ‘It was a style familiar to any who have followed him on the campaign trail.’
      • ‘He has been involved in campaign trails for almost fifty years.’
      • ‘With six weeks to go to the local and European Elections, candidates are now beginning their campaign trails.’
      • ‘A new round of attacks tonight on the campaign trail.’
      • ‘You know, in some ways it seems that, as a political reporter, I've been spending more time in bookstores this year than out on the campaign trail.’
      • ‘‘Eating out’ is a common practice for those on the campaign trail.’
      • ‘It was the first time we saw 200 reporters gathered in two months, and it brought back a lot of very positive memories from the campaign trail.’
      • ‘He hasn't even mentioned it either on the campaign trail.’
      • ‘A single maladroit quip or an unscripted dramatic moment on the campaign trail could spell the difference between victory and defeat.’
      • ‘No candidate on the campaign trail is better at saying two opposing things at once, and no candidate's true intentions are harder to discern.’
      • ‘It's even come up again and again on the campaign trail.’
      • ‘Going on the campaign trail requires self-confidence.’
      • ‘In turn, the boys followed the trails blazed by their famous fathers.’
      path, beaten path, pathway, way, footpath, track, course, road, route
      View synonyms
    2. 3.2North American A downhill ski run or cross-country ski route.
      ‘this steep trail is as firm as off-piste spring snow’
      • ‘Getting out onto a well-lit ski trail is one of the most pleasurable additions to cross-country skiing in recent years.’
      • ‘It doubles as a cross-country ski trail in the winter.’
      • ‘Less far-reaching but no less grand, in 1982 two men with a love of Nordic skiing and a good bottle of wine hit upon the self-evident truth that Vermont needed a state-wide ski trail.’
      • ‘Adjacent to the hotel, Jackson Road, an old logging road, closed in winter, offers access to the backcountry for climbing and doubling as a ski trail.’
      • ‘But that's not the case today, so why would a snowmobiler deliberately drive on a ski trail trashing the tracks and carving up the skating lane?’
      • ‘Its fixed 20-degree angle channels process snow through the blades and teeth downward into the ski trail.’
      • ‘Most residents are never more than a 15 minute drive from a ski trail, with 25 kilometers lit for the long nights.’
      • ‘That makes for a good workout, but you lose the relaxation time that you get from just tucking down a gentle descent on a snowy ski trail.’
      • ‘It is undeterred by uneven terrain, small rocks, sand or any smaller obstacles typically found on a ski trail.’
      • ‘Whether you want sun and sand or a ski trail covered in fresh powder, there's a destination waiting for you.’
      • ‘Then he shot his first 8mm movie, which excited him even more than a dizzying run down a vertiginous ski trail.’
      • ‘Snowmobiles have many practical uses - transportation in remote areas, access to hunting and fishing areas, and yes, ski trail grooming.’
      • ‘Up to 50 miles of ski trail doesn't just disappear behind you each day without a little effort and a massive amount of food consumption.’
      • ‘Exchanging my ski poles for my binocs and camera, I walked back alongside the ski trail.’
      • ‘This gorgeous picture postcard scenery provides a backdrop for over 200 km of downhill and cross-country skiing trails.’
      • ‘Winter adds snowboarding, ice-skating, and cross-country and downhill skiing on the resort's groomed trails and ski slopes.’
      • ‘The plan has some in the community worried that the forests and steep trails will be ruined.’
      • ‘The downhill runs all intersect cross-country trails at right angles, some numerous times.’
      • ‘Three trail systems for cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing crown the Mesa.’
      • ‘To benefit local residents, the Solins create and maintain cross-country ski and snowmobile trails.’
  • 4A trailer for a film or broadcast.

    ‘a recent television trail for ‘The Bill’’
    • ‘It will feature on-air trails on television and radio and, for the first time, an off-air poster campaign.’
    • ‘Strikingly, the television trails feature no voices and the thoughts of individuals reacting to scenes around them are represented by words on screen.’
    • ‘The campaign will also appear - in Arabic and English - on major and specialised online sites, and on Arabic radio trails across the Arab world.’
    • ‘The trails show people going to the most extraordinary lengths to make time to listen to the new digital radio stations.’
    • ‘The TV trails, originally created to raise awareness of the charity's fundraising packs, have become a surprise hit with TV viewers.’
    • ‘The off-air campaign will be complemented by on-air trails with high production values.’
    • ‘The channel is launching its first promotion trail on 12 April.’
  • 5The rear end of a gun carriage, resting or sliding on the ground when the gun is unlimbered.


  • 1with adverbial Draw or be drawn along behind someone or something.

    with object ‘Alex trailed a hand through the clear water’
    • ‘her robe trailed along the ground’
    • ‘Obviously harassed, the young woman walked off, the man still talking in the same vein, trailing along behind her.’
    • ‘I sighed as Pitcher waddled along, trailing slightly behind the others sometimes rushing to catch them up.’
    • ‘Alternately, it doesn't hurt to find someone smoking tea-leaves and trail along behind them.’
    • ‘By then his cousins were trailing grumpily along behind him.’
    • ‘Suddenly we both notice Buster, a Bullmastiff friend sniffing along with its owner trailing along behind.’
    • ‘Just then, she heard his footsteps trailing along behind her and sighed in disappointment.’
    • ‘She meandered her way through the crowd with her companion trailing along behind her.’
    • ‘He took a brave step forward, his robe trailing behind him, and the men holding the knife spoke to him in a foreign language.’
    • ‘I slowed down to a dawdle and left my property, trailing my fingertips along the white picket fence next door.’
    • ‘She stood up from the table, trailing her finger along the dust that had accumulated on the kitchen counter.’
    • ‘I wandered along the aisles, trailing my fingers along the spines of the books.’
    • ‘Evette trailed her fingers along the harsh brick walls.’
    • ‘Sharp and oddly foreboding, the black iron of the fence rang softly against my hand as I trailed it along, headstones passing by on the other side.’
    • ‘Nathan reached out and trailed his thumb along her jaw.’
    • ‘He bent over and trailed his sharp teeth along her collarbone.’
    • ‘I trailed a hand along the brick of the wall as I turned a sharp corner and ran right into Sadie, who had halted abruptly.’
    • ‘Catherine trailed her index finger along the row of books, quickly tripping past the ones she didn't want.’
    • ‘Pat trailed his hand along a wall until he felt a door, then pounded on it.’
    • ‘Instead he just gently trailed his finger along her check, his brown eyes staring at the wall in front of them.’
    • ‘She trailed her finger along a row of dusty books until she found the year she was looking for.’
    drag, sweep, be drawn, draw, stream, dangle, hang, hang down, tow, droop
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1no object (typically of a plant) grow or hang over the edge of something or along the ground.
      ‘the roses grew wild, their stems trailing over the banks’
      • ‘I sailed on towards Wellington Harbour 70 miles away, saved only by the branches of a willow tree trailing mercifully within arm's reach.’
      • ‘Supported plants are also easier to protect from pests than plants trailing on the ground.’
      • ‘Vines trailing overhead and pot plants against the whitewashed walls add a Mediterranean feel.’
      • ‘Trellised tomatoes are also easier to protect from pests than plants that trail on the ground.’
      • ‘Plant one or maybe two in each front corner of your window box, placing them fairly close to the outer edge for trailing.’
      • ‘These adorable little flowers hang brightly from lancelike leafy stems that often trail from 1 to 2 feet in length.’
      • ‘It started life in a terracotta pot but grew too long and trailed on the ground.’
      • ‘He has been growing his own grapes for over ten years, with vines trailing through a sunny shed in a garden full of blackberry and gooseberry trees.’
      • ‘For a bit of added interest and color, plant a few bright colored impatiens mixed with English ivy to trail over the edges of your hosta containers.’
      • ‘The decor includes murals of rainforests, interesting watercolour-and-ink paintings and live vines trailing from the ceiling.’
      • ‘After pruning, allow each season's new canes to trail on the ground, where they won't crowd fruiting canes.’
      • ‘Place cascading plants such as lobelia and petunias in the front to trail off the bed.’
      • ‘Unless you have a particularly handsome window box, plant something that trails at the front.’
      • ‘Further, trailing fuchsias are superb plants for hanging containers.’
      • ‘A large glass flute filled with gel was next and David arranged into this kangaroo paws, palm leaves, asparagus fern, and green amaranthus trailing over the edge.’
      • ‘She filled the removable saucer with garden soil and added her favorite succulent plants and trailing sedum.’
      • ‘What it does bring is chaos, long waits on hot buses and people who think it is safe to drive with a yucca plant and trailing ivy hanging out of their back windows.’
      • ‘Stack the hollow types to the desired height, then plant trailing herbs in the ‘hollows.’’
      creep, crawl, slide, slink, slither
      View synonyms
  • 2no object, with adverbial of direction Walk or move slowly or wearily.

    ‘he baulked at the idea of trailing around the shops’
    • ‘Donnie promptly looked at Steven, and then began moving up the stairs with Steven trailing wearily behind.’
    • ‘He rose to his feet, slowly trailing behind the stern headmaster.’
    • ‘Kevin said goodbye to Samantha and walked off trailing behind Martin.’
    • ‘Her friend, Mary was trailing slowly behind her, her face filled with reluctance.’
    • ‘Ethan was still reading as he walked, trailing behind Jake who was ignoring his presence.’
    • ‘Christopher and I trailed behind, walking perhaps too close to one another as to cherish every time our shoulders touched, or our elbows bumped together.’
    • ‘He kept in front while his cousin trailed behind to walk beside me, her gaze shifting every so often to me when she thought I didn't notice or wasn't looking.’
    • ‘I trailed wearily behind the group, just wanting to get inside.’
    • ‘Susan took his arm and allowed him to lead her inside while Kathy trailed slowly behind them; wondering what the day was to bring.’
    • ‘John soon joined her, bags over his shoulder, his horse trailing slowly behind of his own volition.’
    • ‘They went upstairs, Jenine and Geri carrying their overnight and school bags with them, and Sasha trailing slowly after them, her hands over her face.’
    • ‘She pushed the door open and walked in, Ally trailing after her.’
    • ‘He slowly trailed down the halls in attempt to reach his room, while his mother found various objects to hit him with.’
    • ‘Seb slowly walked over with the other boy trailing behind him, a slight smirk decorating his face.’
    • ‘Gabrielle trailed behind the other two and walked slowly into the room and looked at Heather.’
    • ‘A friend remembers seeing a mother doing her weekly shop with a three-year-old trailing behind her, dressed as a Teletubby.’
    • ‘With hesitant motions, she opened the door of the shop and walked in, with Valarie trailing behind.’
    trudge, plod, drag oneself, wander, amble, meander, drift
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1(of the voice or a speaker) fade gradually before stopping.
      ‘her voice trailed away’
      • ‘He felt the magic start to fade and the voices trailed off.’
      • ‘Her voice trailed off as she disappeared around the corner, headed for the children's bedrooms.’
      • ‘‘My God, it could happen to any of us,’ and her voice trailed off.’
      • ‘‘We all miss you Michael,’ her voice trailed off.’
      • ‘Her voice trailed off as tears began to choke her.’
      • ‘Her voice trailed away to become almost inaudible.’
      • ‘His tear-filled voice trailed off into the distance as he ran, until it eventually died out.’
      • ‘Her voice trailed off as laughter began to fade in over her voice.’
      • ‘Her voice trailed off and she looked down at her feet, her hair falling to cover her face.’
      • ‘‘If we fail, send reinforcements…’ Her voice trailed away again, and they saw her shudder.’
      • ‘‘I guess I'm angry and scared and tired…’ Her voice trailed off and she stopped sobbing.’
      • ‘The other girl's voice trailed off as she was given no response, ‘Syd?’’
      • ‘‘Maybe he wanted to give it to you…’ My voice trailed off as I realized I had maybe said the wrong thing.’’
      • ‘Sam joined in her soft laughter but let his slowly trail off as she did hers.’
      • ‘Chloe let her thoughts trail on as she walked into the classroom.’
      fade, dwindle, diminish, lessen, wane, ebb, subside, weaken, peter out, melt away, fizzle out, taper off, tail off, grow faint, grow dim, evaporate, disappear, vanish, die, come to nothing, come to a halt, come to an end, run out
      View synonyms
  • 3with object Follow (a person or animal) by using marks or scent left behind.

    ‘Sam suspected they were trailing him’
    • ‘Basically day-time hunters, their prey is trailed by scent and pursued at sight with no violent outburst of speed, but in a steady tireless canter, which finally outruns the quarry.’
    • ‘In the end she had no choice but have them follow her because they trailed her.’
    • ‘Kate was drawn magnetically to follow, and trailed him through the door into the dark hallway.’
    • ‘Morton began trailing him and ducking behind shop windows with Catherine when the man turned around.’
    • ‘We walked through the village to another craftsman's house, a Pied Piper tail of children trailing us.’
    • ‘The first one grabbed him and carried him off into the darkness with the second one trailing him from behind.’
    • ‘When I was younger I'd been a good hunter and could trail a rabbit easily.’
    • ‘He would sweep into a room, working a cigarette in his fingers, and people would trail him like pilot fish.’
    • ‘Julius cautiously trailed him and the others hesitantly followed.’
    • ‘I had to watch for people trailing me in the halls.’
    • ‘No murders or missing persons, though, because more than 90 per cent of his work was trailing wives or husbands suspected of having an affair.’
    • ‘She was always trailed by her media people, and they were quick to keep her on point.’
    • ‘The lion can live with the wild dogs to hunt together because the lion is not afraid of being attacked by the wild dogs and he can afford to let them trail him and pick up some scraps to eat.’
    • ‘There was no way that the person or creature that was trailing me could get it from me now that it was mine.’
    • ‘Watch for additional animals if you see one; a male may be pursuing a mate, and youngsters may be trailing their mother.’
    • ‘He winked at Maddy as the bell rang and sauntered down the hall with many girls trailing him like a dog.’
    • ‘The mini fox terrier had trailed him to the Control Room.’
    • ‘When winter approaches in September and October, the sheep are trailed on horseback from the mountain pastures down to the road.’
    • ‘His footfalls were hidden under the oppressive bang of gunfire and bullets trailed him like a shadow.’
    follow, pursue, track, trace, shadow, stalk, dog, hound, spoor, hunt, hunt down, course, keep an eye on, keep in sight, run to earth, run to ground, run down
    View synonyms
  • 4no object Be losing to an opponent in a game or contest.

    with complement ‘the defending champions were trailing 10—5 at half-time’
    • ‘But it shouldn't mask the fact that when he was on a football pitch he was the supremo, the quick-footed star of the game who had tricks and skills to burn and opponents trailing in his slipstream.’
    • ‘They have been beatable in every game, trailing in the fourth quarter at home against Golden State and Washington.’
    • ‘It came down to the end of the game and we were trailing by one point.’
    • ‘They came here trailing by two games, won three and left with a one-game lead.’
    • ‘The 49ers have trailed in every game this season.’
    • ‘The Texans trailed most of the game and were being pushed around by an obviously superior team, but they refused to give up, kept their heads right with ball and nearly pulled off the upset.’
    • ‘With 17 minutes left in the game, we trailed by 22 points.’
    • ‘They finished 90th in the nation in passing offense, a devastating number for a team that often trailed big early in games.’
    • ‘We trailed early in the contest, 5-2, going into the bottom of the second.’
    • ‘His opponents included two State players and during one game trailed 1-12 before clawing his way back to win 21-15.’
    • ‘There should always be a sense of urgency whether we are trailing behind our opponents or even leading by 50 points.’
    • ‘France also went close to losing after spending most of the game trailing Scotland and being jeered by its own fans at Stade de France.’
    • ‘This seemed to set the tone for the Warriors as they never trailed in the game, coming out on the winning end of a 79-74 final score.’
    • ‘Indeed, until the last quarter of an hour it was still anybody's game as York trailed by just six points.’
    • ‘So, going into the fourth, the selected opponent was still trailing the house favourite.’
    • ‘After the Chicago game, the Lakers had trailed or been tied entering the fourth quarter seven times this season and had lost all seven games.’
    • ‘The 33-year-old, who has never trailed in the championship, managed to let a five hole lead slip to only one with four holes to go.’
    • ‘As the two of us ran around the quarter-mile track, I slightly trailed Bruce.’
    • ‘The race began and very soon our horse was trailing the leaders, all the way towards (I think) the last fence when there was a tremendous pile-up.’
    • ‘And this time, they consistently supported the national shuttlers, irrespective of whether they were leading or trailing their opponents.’
    lose, be down, be behind, lag behind, fall behind, drop behind
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  • 5with object Give advance publicity to (a film, broadcast, or proposal)

    ‘the bank's plans have been extensively trailed’
    • ‘For some strange reason the film was originally trailed as a sort of ‘teen slasher flick’ on US TV.’
    • ‘The programme had been trailed on screen for many weeks beforehand, leading many newspaper critics to accuse the broadcaster of ‘hype’.’
    • ‘Their six months of filming was distilled into a one hour programme trailed as ‘a damning catalogue of inefficiency, neglect and substandard treatment.’’
    • ‘I've got to be up early tomorrow morning, too, so I sound at least half awake when I trail the programme at 7.20 on the breakfast show.’
    • ‘This was trailed for weeks beforehand with the promise of full coverage and special guests.’
    • ‘Well, this has been trailed pretty extensively.’
    • ‘Come back and read the next paragraph to discover more about how TV channels repeatedly trail their top programmes to try to make us watch them.’
    advertise, publicize, announce, proclaim
    View synonyms
  • 6with object Apply (slip) through a nozzle or spout to decorate ceramic ware.


    at the trail
    • With a rifle hanging balanced in one hand and (in Britain) parallel to the ground.

    trail arms
    • Let a rifle hang balanced in one hand and (in Britain) parallel to the ground.

      ‘When the order is given to trail arms, from the secure, it is done on that side, and with that hand which holds the rifle.’
      • ‘Whenever entering into the tunnel recruit units had to trail arms and sing ‘Anchor’s Aweigh’.’
      • ‘At twenty yards' distance the soldiers will be ordered to trail arms, advance with shouts, fire at five paces' distance, and charge bayonets.’
    trail one's coat
    • Deliberately provoke a quarrel or fight.

      ‘She also trailed her coat in relation to an entirely new point in respect of which she wished to reserve her position, but which she did not argue before me.’
      • ‘We asked teachers all over the UK for their views and trailed our coats at innumerable meetings.’
      • ‘Not only has he chanced his hand, but he has sometimes trailed his coat.’
      • ‘It would be an understatement to say that he trailed his coat in front of the House of Lords.’


Middle English (as a verb): from Old French traillier ‘to tow’, or Middle Low German treilen ‘haul a boat’, based on Latin tragula ‘dragnet’, from trahere ‘to pull’. Compare with trawl. The noun originally denoted the train of a robe, later generalized to denote something trailing.