[ trahy ]
See synonyms for: trytriedtriestrying on

verb (used with object),tried, try·ing.
  1. to attempt to do or accomplish: Try it before you say it's simple.

  2. to test the effect or result of (often followed by out): to try a new method; to try a recipe out.

  1. to endeavor to evaluate by experiment or experience: to try a new field; to try a new book.

  2. to test the quality, value, fitness, accuracy, etc., of: Will you try a spoonful of this and tell me what you think of it?

  3. Law. to examine and determine judicially, as a cause; determine judicially the guilt or innocence of (a person).

  4. to put to a severe test; subject to strain, as of endurance, patience, affliction, or trouble; tax: to try one's patience.

  5. to attempt to open (a door, window, etc.) in order to find out whether it is locked: Try all the doors before leaving.

  6. to melt down (fat, blubber, etc.) to obtain the oil; render (usually followed by out).

  7. Archaic.

    • to determine the truth or right of (a quarrel or question) by test or battle (sometimes followed by out).

    • to find to be right by test or experience.

verb (used without object),tried, try·ing.
  1. to make an attempt or effort; strive: Try to complete the examination.

  2. Nautical. to lie to in heavy weather under just sufficient sail to head into the wind.

noun,plural tries.
  1. an attempt or effort: to have a try at something.

  2. Rugby. a score of three points earned by advancing the ball to or beyond the opponents' goal line.

Verb Phrases
  1. try on, to put on an article of clothing in order to judge its appearance and fit: You can't really tell how it will look until you try it on.

  2. try out, to use experimentally; test: to try out a new car.

  1. try out for, to compete for (a position, membership, etc.): Over a hundred boys came to try out for the football team.

Idioms about try

  1. give it the old college try, Informal. to make a sincere effort: I gave it the old college try and finally found an apartment.

  2. try it / that on, Chiefly British Informal.

    • to put on airs: She's been trying it on ever since the inheritance came through.

    • to be forward or presumptuous, especially with a potential romantic partner: She avoided him after he'd tried it on with her.

Origin of try

First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English trien “to try (a legal case),” from Anglo-French trier, Old French “to sift, cull”; of uncertain origin

synonym study For try

1, 10. Try, attempt, endeavor, strive all mean to put forth an effort toward a specific end. Try is the most often used and most general term: to try to decipher a message; to try hard to succeed. Attempt, often interchangeable with try, sometimes suggests the possibility of failure and is often used in reference to more serious or important matters: to attempt to formulate a new theory of motion. Endeavor emphasizes serious and continued exertion of effort, sometimes aimed at dutiful or socially appropriate behavior: to endeavor to fulfill one's obligations. Strive, stresses persistent, vigorous, even strenuous effort, often in the face of obstacles: to strive to overcome a handicap.

usage note For try

10. Try followed by and instead of to has been in standard use since the 17th century: The Justice Department has decided to try and regulate jury-selection practices. The construction occurs only with the base form try, not with tries or tried or trying. Although some believe that try and is less formal than try to, both patterns occur in all types of speech and writing.

Other words from try

  • pre·try, verb (used with object), pre·tried, pre·try·ing.
  • re·try, verb, re·tried, re·try·ing.

Words Nearby try Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use try in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for try


/ (traɪ) /

verbtries, trying or tried
  1. (when tr, may take an infinitive, sometimes with to replaced by and) to make an effort or attempt: he tried to climb a cliff

  2. (tr often foll by out) to sample, test, or give experimental use to (something) in order to determine its quality, worth, etc: try her cheese flan

  1. (tr) to put strain or stress on: he tries my patience

  2. (tr; often passive) to give pain, affliction, or vexation to: I have been sorely tried by those children

    • to examine and determine the issues involved in (a cause) in a court of law

    • to hear evidence in order to determine the guilt or innocence of (an accused)

    • to sit as judge at the trial of (an issue or person)

  3. (tr) to melt (fat, lard, etc) in order to separate out impurities

  4. (tr usually foll by out) obsolete to extract (a material) from an ore, mixture, etc, usually by heat; refine

nounplural tries
  1. an experiment or trial

  2. an attempt or effort

  1. rugby the act of an attacking player touching the ball down behind the opposing team's goal line, scoring five or, in Rugby League, four points

  2. Also called: try for a point American football an attempt made after a touchdown to score an extra point by kicking a goal or, for two extra points, by running the ball or completing a pass across the opponents' goal line

Origin of try

C13: from Old French trier to sort, sift, of uncertain origin

usage For try

The use of and instead of to after try is very common, but should be avoided in formal writing: we must try to prevent (not try and prevent) this happening

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with try


In addition to the idioms beginning with try

  • try on
  • try one's hand
  • try one's patience
  • try out

also see:

  • old college try

Also see undertried.

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