Trial vs. Trail: What's the Difference?
"Trial" often refers to a test or legal examination, while "Trail" typically indicates a path or the act of following behind.
Trial and Trail are distinct in meaning despite their phonetic similarity. A Trial usually refers to a formal examination of evidence before a judge, while a Trail is more about pathways or tracks that are often used for walking or hiking.
The term Trial doesn't always mean a courtroom scenario; it can represent any test or examination of something. For instance, a product might undergo a trial before its official release. In contrast, Trail can denote the act of trailing behind someone, akin to following them.
In historical contexts, Trial often points to significant legal events or situations where an individual or group faced testing situations. Trail, on the other hand, might bring up historical paths like the Oregon Trail, which pioneers once traversed.
When one encounters challenges, they might say they are "on trial," meaning they're undergoing a test of character or skill. Whereas if someone says they're "on the trail" of something, it suggests they're pursuing or searching for it.
Lastly, when someone's endurance or patience is tested, they might say they are "put to the trial." In a more literal sense, when someone is hiking or trekking, they're "hitting the trail."
A test or legal examination.
A path or the act of following behind.
Legal, testing situations.
Hiking, pursuing, following.
Commonly a noun, occasionally a verb.
Both a noun and a verb.
Describes an examination or test.
Indicates a path or act of trailing.
Typically an object or subject.
Both an object and verb form.
Trial and Trail Definitions
A formal examination in court.
The trial for the defendant starts next week.
A marked path for walking or hiking.
We hiked the trail up the mountain.
An attempt or effort.
After several trials, he finally succeeded.
The act of following behind.
The detective was on the trail of the suspect.
A process to determine quality.
The drug is undergoing clinical trials.
A series of signs or objects left behind.
The breadcrumbs formed a trail to their destination.
A proceeding in which opposing parties in a dispute present evidence and make arguments on the application of the law before a judge or jury
The case is expected to go to trial.
To drag or let hang behind.
Her gown trailed behind her elegantly.
An instance of such a proceeding
The trial of Socrates.
To allow to drag or stream behind, as along the ground
The dog ran off, trailing its leash.
The act or process of testing, trying, or putting to the proof
A trial of one's faith.
To drag (the body, for example) wearily or heavily.
An instance of such testing, especially as part of a series of tests or experiments
A clinical trial of a drug.
To follow the traces or scent of, as in hunting; track.
An effort or attempt
Succeeded on the third trial.
To follow the course taken by; pursue
Trail a fugitive.
A state of pain or anguish that tests patience, endurance, or belief
"the fiery trial through which we pass" (Abraham Lincoln).
To follow behind
Several cruisers trailed by an escorting destroyer.
A trying, troublesome, or annoying person or thing
The child was a trial to his parents.
To lag behind (an opponent)
Trailed the league leader by four games.
A preliminary competition or test to determine qualifications, as in a sport.
To drag or be dragged along, brushing the ground
The queen's long robe trailed behind.
Of, relating to, or used in a trial.
To extend, grow, or droop loosely over a surface
Vines trailing through the garden.
Attempted or advanced on a provisional or experimental basis
A married couple on a trial separation.
To drift in a thin stream
Smoke trailing from a dying fire.
Made or done in the course of a trial or test.
To become gradually fainter; dwindle
His voice trailed off in confusion.
An opportunity to test something out; a test.
They will perform the trials for the new equipment next week.
To walk or proceed with dragging steps; trudge
Trailed along in glum silence.
Appearance at judicial court in order to be examined.
To be behind in competition; lag
Trailing by two goals in the second period.
A difficult or annoying experience, such an experience seen as a test of faith and piety
That boy was a trial to his parents.
A marked or beaten path, as through woods or wilderness.
A tryout to pick members of a team.
An overland route
The pioneers' trail across the prairies.
(ceramics) A piece of ware used to test the heat of a kiln.
A marked course through one or more bodies of water, as for recreational boaters or divers.
(UK) An internal examination set by Eton College.
A mark, trace, course, or path left by a moving body.
Pertaining to a trial or test.
The scent of a person or animal
The dogs lost the trail of the fox.
Attempted on a provisional or experimental basis.
Something that is drawn along or follows behind; a train
The mayor was followed by a trail of reporters.
Characterized by having three (usually equivalent) components.
A succession of things that come afterward or are left behind
Left a trail of broken promises.
Something that hangs loose and long
Trails of ticker tape floated down from office windows.
(grammar) Pertaining to a language form referring to three of something, like people; contrast singular, dual and plural. (See Ambai language for an example.)
No language has a trial number unless it has a dual.
The part of a gun carriage that rests or slides on the ground.
To carry out a series of tests on (a new product, procedure etc.) before marketing or implementing it.
The warning system was extensively trialed before being fitted to all our vehicles.
The act of trailing.
To try out (a new player) in a sports team.
The team trialled a new young goalkeeper in Saturday's match, with mixed results.
(transitive) To follow behind (someone or something); to tail (someone or something).
The hunters trailed their prey deep into the woods.
The act of trying or testing in any manner.
(transitive) To drag (something) behind on the ground.
You'll get your coat all muddy if you trail it around like that.
Any effort or exertion of strength for the purpose of ascertaining what can be done or effected.
[I] defy thee to the trial of mortal fight.
(transitive) To leave (a trail of).
He walked into the house, soaking wet, and trailed water all over the place.
The state of being tried or tempted; exposure to suffering that tests strength, patience, faith, or the like; affliction or temptation that exercises and proves the graces or virtues of men.
Others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings.
(transitive) To show a trailer of (a film, TV show etc.); to release or publish a preview of (a report etc.) in advance of the full publication.
His new film was trailed on TV last night.
There were no surprises in this morning's much-trailed budget statement.
The act of testing by experience; proof; test.
Repeated trials of the issues and events of actions.
(intransitive) To hang or drag loosely behind; to move with a slow sweeping motion.
The bride's long dress trailed behind her as she walked down the aisle.
That which tries or afflicts; that which harasses; that which tries the character or principles; that which tempts to evil; as, his child's conduct was a sore trial.
Every station is exposed to some trials.
(intransitive) To run or climb like certain plants.
Examination by a test; experiment, as in chemistry, metallurgy, etc.
(intransitive) To drag oneself lazily or reluctantly along.
Our parents marched to church and we trailed behind.
The formal examination of the matter in issue in a cause before a competent tribunal; the mode of determining a question of fact in a court of law; the examination, in legal form, of the facts in issue in a cause pending before a competent tribunal, for the purpose of determining such issue.
To be losing, to be behind in a competition.
(law) legal proceedings consisting of the judicial examination of issues by a competent tribunal;
Most of these complaints are settled before they go to trial
(military) To carry (a firearm) with the breech near the ground and the upper part inclined forward, the piece being held by the right hand near the middle.
The act of testing something;
In the experimental trials the amount of carbon was measured separately
He called each flip of the coin a new trial
To create a trail in.
(sports) a preliminary competition to determine qualifications;
The trials for the semifinals began yesterday
To travel by following or creating trails.
(law) the determination of a person's innocence or guilt by due process of law;
He had a fair trial and the jury found him guilty
To transport (livestock) by herding it along a trail.
Trying something to find out about it;
A sample for ten days free trial
A trial of progesterone failed to relieve the pain
(dated) To take advantage of the ignorance of; to impose upon.
An annoying or frustrating or catastrophic event;
His mother-in-law's visits were a great trial for him
Life is full of tribulations
A visitation of the plague
The track or indication marking the route followed by something that has passed, such as the footprints of animal on land or the contrail of an airplane in the sky.
Trail of blood
Data trail, paper trail
The act of undergoing testing;
He survived the great test of battle
Candidates must compete in a trial of skill
A route for travel over land, especially a narrow, unpaved pathway for use by hikers, horseback riders, etc.
A test of performance.
The new software is in its trial phase.
A route or circuit generally.
Politicians are on the campaign trail in preparation for this year's election.
A challenging situation.
Losing her job was a major trial for her.
(television) A trailer broadcast on television for a forthcoming film or programme.
(graph theory) A walk in which all the edges are distinct.
The horizontal distance from where the wheel touches the ground to where the steering axis intersects the ground.
To hunt by the track; to track.
To draw or drag, as along the ground.
And hung his head, and trailed his legs along.
They shall not trail me through their streetsLike a wild beast.
Long behind he trails his pompous robe.
To carry, as a firearm, with the breech near the ground and the upper part inclined forward, the piece being held by the right hand near the middle.
To tread down, as grass, by walking through it; to lay flat.
To take advantage of the ignorance of; to impose upon.
I presently perceived she was (what is vernacularly termed) trailing Mrs. Dent; that is, playing on her ignorance.
To be drawn out in length; to follow after.
When his brother saw the red blood trail.
To grow to great length, especially when slender and creeping upon the ground, as a plant; to run or climb.
A track left by man or beast; a track followed by the hunter; a scent on the ground by the animal pursued; as, a deer trail.
They traveled in the bed of the brook, leaving no dangerous trail.
How cheerfully on the false trail they cry!
A footpath or road track through a wilderness or wild region; as, an Indian trail over the plains.
Anything drawn out to a length; as, the trail of a meteor; a trail of smoke.
When lightning shoots in glittering trails along.
Anything drawn behind in long undulations; a train.
Anything drawn along, as a vehicle.
A frame for trailing plants; a trellis.
The entrails of a fowl, especially of game, as the woodcock, and the like; - applied also, sometimes, to the entrails of sheep.
The woodcock is a favorite with epicures, and served with its trail in, is a delicious dish.
That part of the stock of a gun carriage which rests on the ground when the piece is unlimbered. See Illust. of Gun carriage, under Gun.
The act of taking advantage of the ignorance of a person; an imposition.
A track or mark left by something that has passed;
There as a trail of blood
A tear left its trail on her cheek
A path or track roughly blazed through wild or hilly country
Evidence pointing to a possible solution;
The police are following a promising lead
The trail led straight to the perpetrator
To lag or linger behind;
But in so many other areas we still are dragging
Go after with the intent to catch;
The policeman chased the mugger down the alley
The dog chased the rabbit
Move, proceed, or walk draggingly pr slowly;
John trailed behind behis class mates
The Mercedes trailed behind the horse cart
Hang down so as to drag along the ground;
The bride's veiled trailed along the ground
Drag loosely along a surface; allow to sweep the ground;
The toddler was trailing his pants
She trained her long scarf behind her
To fall behind in movement.
He trailed the group, lost in thought.
Is a "trail" always a physical path?
No, "trail" can also refer to the act of following or a series of signs.
Do "trial" and "trail" sound similar?
Yes, they're phonetically similar but differ in meaning.
Can "trial" be a verb?
Yes, like when you "trial" a new system.
Can "trail" indicate being behind in a race?
Yes, like when a runner "trails" their opponent.
Are trials always challenging?
Often, but not always. Some trials are routine tests.
Can "trial" be used outside legal contexts?
Yes, "trial" can mean any test or examination.
Does every "trial" result in a verdict?
In a legal sense, yes, but broadly "trial" can mean any test without a set outcome.
Can a movie have a "trail"?
It can have a "trailer," a preview, not a "trail."
Do all trails lead somewhere?
Most have a destination, but some might circle back or fade away.
Can you have a trial of a new product?
Yes, this would be testing the product before wider release.
Can animals make trails?
Yes, like a deer trail in the woods.
How do "trial by jury" and "hit the trail" differ?
The first pertains to legal proceedings, the latter to starting a journey or hike.
Are "trial and error" and "trailblazing" related?
Not directly. The first is a problem-solving method, the latter means pioneering.
Does a trail always have tracks?
Not always. Some are marked paths without clear tracks.
How might one "trail" in a competition?
They might be behind in points or ranking.
Are "trial" and "tribulation" synonymous?
They're related, both indicating challenges, but aren't exact synonyms.
Does "trail off" mean ending a trail?
Not literally. It means to gradually become quieter or less clear.
Can a trial be positive?
Yes, especially if it means testing something beneficial or getting a positive outcome.
What might be a "trial run"?
It's a test or rehearsal before the actual event or situation.
Is trailing someone the same as stalking?
It can be, but "trailing" doesn't always have negative connotations.
Written bySawaira Riaz
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