- to drag or let drag along the ground or other surface; draw or drag along behind.
- to bring or have floating after itself or oneself: a racing car trailing clouds of dust.
- to follow the track, trail, or scent of; track.
- to follow along behind (another), as in a race.
- to mark out, as a track.
- to tread down or make a path through (grass or the like).
- to draw out, as speech; protract.
- Ceramics. to pour (slip) on a biscuit so as to produce a pattern.
- to be drawn or dragged along the ground or some other surface, as when hanging from something moving: Her long bridal gown trailed across the floor.
- to hang down loosely from something.
- to stream from or float after something moving, as dust, smoke, and sparks do.
- to follow as if drawn along.
- to fish by trailing a line from a moving boat; troll.
- to go slowly, lazily, or wearily along.
- to pass or extend in a straggling line.
- to change gradually or wander from a course, so as to become weak, ineffectual, etc. (usually followed by off or away): Her voice trailed off into silence.
- to arrive or be last: He finally trailed in at 10 o'clock.
- to be losing in a contest: The home team was trailing 20 to 15.
- to creep or crawl, as a serpent.
- to follow a track or scent, as of game.
- (of a plant) to extend itself in growth along the ground rather than taking root or clinging by tendrils, etc.
- a path or track made across a wild region, over rough country, or the like, by the passage of people or animals.
- the track, scent, or the like, left by an animal, person, or thing, especially as followed by a hunter, hound, or other pursuer.
- something that is trailed or that trails behind, as the train of a skirt or robe.
- a stream of dust, smoke, light, people, vehicles, etc., behind something moving.
- Artillery. the part of a gun carriage that rests on the ground when the piece is unlimbered.
- Architecture. a running vine, leaf, or tendril ornament, as in a Gothic molding.
- trail arms, Military.
- to hold a rifle in the right hand at an oblique angle, with the muzzle forward and the butt a few inches off the ground.
- a command to trail arms.
Origin of trail
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for trailing
Trailing only the economy, education and classroom issues dominated thinking among voters nationwide.Why Voters Love Common Core
Harold Ford Jr.
November 28, 2014
Braley is trailing Republican Joni Ernst by a slight margin heading into Election Day.Pro-Life Group Sends Over The Top Mailer
October 31, 2014
But after pulling ahead of Nunn in September, three recent polls have shown Perdue tying or trailing her.The GOP’s Really Big Problem in Georgia
October 22, 2014
In April, Wehby was the front-runner; now, she is trailing badly and Oregon is safely in the D column.What Do Women Want? Not the GOP
September 8, 2014
With a 34 percent approval rating, Brownback is now trailing Democratic gubernatorial nominee Paul Davis.The Kansas Independent Who Could Control the Senate
September 6, 2014
And Jud, with a stricken look, crossed the floor with trailing feet.Way of the Lawless
At a second glance Jake noticed that the Horse was trailing the rope.Johnny Bear
E. T. Seton
The wind increased, and in it came by-and-by the trailing skirts of a cloud.Wilfrid Cumbermede
They were trailing a hot scent, a pastime as well as a work that was their life.The Law-Breakers
He ran on at top speed with Murgatroyd trailing anxiously behind.Pariah Planet
- (of a plant) having a long stem which spreads over the ground or hangs looselytrailing ivy
- to drag or stream, or permit to drag or stream along a surface, esp the groundher skirt trailed; she trailed her skipping rope
- to make (a track or path) through (a place)to trail a way; to trail a jungle
- to chase, follow, or hunt (an animal or person) by following marks or tracks
- (when intr, often foll by behind) to lag or linger behind (a person or thing)
- (intr) (esp of plants) to extend or droop over or along a surface
- (intr) to be falling behind in a race or competitionthe favourite is trailing at the last fence
- (tr) to tow (a boat, caravan, etc) behind a motor vehicle
- (tr) to carry (a rifle) at the full length of the right arm in a horizontal position, with the muzzle to the fore
- (intr) to move wearily or slowlywe trailed through the city
- (tr) (on television or radio) to advertise (a future programme) with short extracts
- trail one's coat to invite a quarrel by deliberately provocative behaviour
- a print, mark, or marks made by a person, animal, or object
- the act or an instance of trailing
- the scent left by a moving person or animal that is followed by a hunting animal
- a path, track, or road, esp one roughly blazed
- something that trails behind or trails in loops or strands
- the part of a towed gun carriage and limber that connects the two when in movement and rests on the ground as a partial support when unlimbered
- engineering the distance between the point of contact of a steerable wheel and a line drawn from the swivel pin axis to the ground
- (on television or radio) an advertisement for a future programme
Word Origin and History for trailing
c.1300, "to hang down loosely and flow behind," from Old French trailler "to tow," ultimately from Vulgar Latin *tragulare "to drag," from Latin tragula "dragnet," probably related to trahere "to pull" (see tract (n.1)). The meaning "follow the trail of" (an animal, etc.) is first recorded late 14c. Related: Trailed; trailing.
early 14c., "trailing part of a robe, gown, etc.," from the source of trail (v.). The meaning "track or smell left by a person or animal" is also from 1580s. Meaning "path or track worn in wilderness" is attested from 1807.
Idioms and Phrases with trailing
see blaze a trail.