verb (used with object)

verb (used without object)



    trail arms, Military.
    1. 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.
    2. a command to trail arms.

Origin of trail

1275–1325; Middle English trailen to draw or drag in the rear; compare Old English træglian to tear off; cognate with Middle Dutch traghelen to drag; akin to Latvian dragât to tear off, drag
Related formstrail·ing·ly, adverbtrail·less, adjectivenon·trail·ing, adjectiveun·trailed, adjectiveun·trail·ing, adjective
Can be confusedtrail trial (see synonym study at trial)

Synonyms for trail

3. trace, hunt. 16. diminish, shrink, dwindle. 22. See path. 23. spoor. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for trailed

Contemporary Examples of trailed

Historical Examples of trailed

  • The Leopard Woman, not knowing what else to do, trailed after him.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

  • Behind him trailed the Winchester regiment, now reorganized and mounted.

    The Rock of Chickamauga

    Joseph A. Altsheler

  • "I guess I trailed it through some o' the drifts," he remarked.

    Tiverton Tales

    Alice Brown

  • Either of them on a road could have trailed us, step for step, and as long as we pleased.

    The Forest

    Stewart Edward White

  • The girl must have trailed him to make sure they picked up the right man.

    Satellite System

    Horace Brown Fyfe

British Dictionary definitions for trailed



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
Derived Formstrail-less, adjective

Word Origin for trail

C14: from Old French trailler to draw, tow, from Vulgar Latin tragulāre (unattested), from Latin trāgula dragnet, from trahere to drag; compare Middle Dutch traghelen to drag
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for trailed



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with trailed


see blaze a trail.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.