trim one's sails. sail(def 19).

Origin of trim

before 900; probably continuing Old English trymman, trymian to strengthen, prepare (not recorded in ME), derivative of trum strong, active; akin to Irish dron strong, Greek drȳmós coppice, Latin dūrus hard. See tree
Related formstrim·ly, adverbtrim·ness, nouno·ver·trim, verb, o·ver·trimmed, o·ver·trim·ming.pre·trim, verb, pre·trimmed, pre·trim·ming.

Synonyms for trim Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for trim

Contemporary Examples of trim

Historical Examples of trim

British Dictionary definitions for trim


adjective trimmer or trimmest

neat and spruce in appearance
slim; slender
in good condition

verb trims, trimming or trimmed (mainly tr)

to put in good order, esp by cutting or pruning
to shape and finish (timber)
to adorn or decorate
(sometimes foll by off or away) to cut so as to removeto trim off a branch
to cut down to the desired size or shapeto trim material to a pattern
dialect to decorateto trim a Christmas tree
  1. (also intr)to adjust the balance of (a vessel) or (of a vessel) to maintain an even balance, by distribution of ballast, cargo, etc
  2. (also intr)to adjust (a vessel's sails) to take advantage of the wind
  3. to stow (cargo)
to balance (an aircraft) before flight by adjusting the position of the load or in flight by the use of trim tabs, fuel transfer, etc
(also intr) to modify (one's opinions, etc) to suit opposing factions or for expediency
informal to thrash or beat
informal to rebuke
obsolete to furnish or equip


a decoration or adornment
the upholstery and decorative facings, as on the door panels, of a car's interior
proper order or fitness; good shapein trim
a haircut that neatens but does not alter the existing hairstyle
  1. the general set and appearance of a vessel
  2. the difference between the draught of a vessel at the bow and at the stern
  3. the fitness of a vessel
  4. the position of a vessel's sails relative to the wind
  5. the relative buoyancy of a submarine
dress or equipment
US window-dressing
the attitude of an aircraft in flight when the pilot allows the main control surfaces to take up their own positions
films a section of shot cut out during editing
material that is trimmed off
decorative mouldings, such as architraves, picture rails, etc
Derived Formstrimly, adverbtrimness, noun

Word Origin for trim

Old English trymman to strengthen; related to trum strong, Old Irish druma tree, Russian drom thicket



the county town of Meath, Republic of Ireland; 12th-century castle, medieval cathedral; textiles and machinery. Pop: 5894 (2002)
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 trim

probably from Old English trymman "strengthen, make ready," from trum "strong, stable," from Proto-Germanic *trumaz; said to be cognate with Sanskrit drumah "tree," Greek drymos "copse, thicket," drys "tree, oak," and Old English treow (see tree). Examples in Middle English are wanting.

Original sense is preserved in nautical phrase in fighting trim (see trim (n.)). Meaning "make neat by cutting" is first recorded 1520s; that of "decorate, adorn" is from 1540s. Sense of "reduce" is attested from 1966. The adjective sense of "in good condition, neat, fit" is attested from c.1500, probably ultimately from Old English adjective trum.


"state of being prepared," 1580s, nautical jargon, from trim (v.). The meaning "visible woodwork of a house" is recorded from 1884; sense of "ornamental additions to an automobile" is from 1922. Slang meaning "a woman regarded as a sex object" is attested from 1955, American English.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper