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[trahy-uh l, trahyl] /ˈtraɪ əl, traɪl/
  1. the examination before a judicial tribunal of the facts put in issue in a cause, often including issues of law as well as those of fact.
  2. the determination of a person's guilt or innocence by due process of law.
the act of trying, testing, or putting to the proof.
test; proof.
an attempt or effort to do something.
a tentative or experimental action in order to ascertain results; experiment.
the state or position of a person or thing being tried or tested; probation.
subjection to suffering or grievous experiences; a distressed or painful state:
comfort in the hour of trial.
an affliction or trouble.
a trying, distressing, or annoying thing or person.
Ceramics. a piece of ceramic material used to try the heat of a kiln and the progress of the firing of its contents.
of, relating to, or employed in a trial.
done or made by way of trial, proof, or experiment.
used in testing, experimenting, etc.
acting or serving as a sample, experimental specimen, etc.:
a trial offer.
on trial,
  1. undergoing examination before a judicial tribunal.
  2. undergoing a probationary or trial period.
1520-30; try + -al2
Related forms
intertrial, adjective
nontrial, noun
posttrial, adjective
retrial, noun
self-trial, noun
Can be confused
trail, trial (see synonym study at the current entry)
2, 3, 5. examination. T rial , experiment , test imply an attempt to find out something or to find out about something. T rial is the general word for a trying of anything: articles sent for ten days' free trial. E xperiment is a trial conducted to prove or illustrate the truth or validity of something, or an attempt to discover something new: an experiment in organic chemistry. T est is a more specific word, referring to a trial under approved and fixed conditions, or a final and decisive trial as a conclusion of past experiments: a test of a new type of airplane. 4. endeavor, essay, struggle. 7. grief, tribulation, distress, sorrow, trouble, hardship. See affliction.

Trial, The

German Der Prozess. a novel (1925) by Franz Kafka. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for trials
  • Many trials later, she came up with this recipe, which the whole family loves.
  • Clinical trials started getting larger and more complex.
  • Compared with epidemiological studies and clinical trials, anecdotes-with their lack of control groups-look downright pitiful.
  • Unfortunately, there are no data from clinical trials on tenure-track careers.
  • Well, philosophy has a long history and has faced many trials.
  • In each of the trials, the dolphins went to the mirror to examine the areas the scientists had marked.
  • trials of the other defendants are scheduled to take place over the coming year.
  • He drops you into their world so that you feel their trials and tribulations.
  • The trials, on sandy ground considered ideal habitat for ground-nesting birds, were ringed by half-metre-high electrified wire.
  • In clinical trials, what worked in mice didn't always translate to humans.
British Dictionary definitions for trials


/ˈtraɪəl; traɪl/
  1. the act or an instance of trying or proving; test or experiment
  2. (as modifier): a trial run
  1. the judicial examination of the issues in a civil or criminal cause by a competent tribunal and the determination of these issues in accordance with the law of the land
  2. the determination of an accused person's guilt or innocence after hearing evidence for the prosecution and for the accused and the judicial examination of the issues involved
  3. (as modifier): trial proceedings
an effort or attempt to do something: we had three trials at the climb
trouble or grief
an annoying or frustrating person or thing
(often pl) a competition for individuals: sheepdog trials
a motorcycling competition in which the skills of the riders are tested over rough ground
(ceramics) a piece of sample material used for testing the heat of a kiln and its effects
on trial
  1. undergoing trial, esp before a court of law
  2. being tested, as before a commitment to purchase
verb trials, trialling, trialled
(transitive) to test or make experimental use of (something): the idea has been trialled in several schools
Derived Forms
trialling, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Anglo-French, from trier to try


noun (grammar)
a grammatical number occurring in some languages for words in contexts where exactly three of their referents are described or referred to
(modifier) relating to or inflected for this number
Word Origin
C19: from tri- + -al1
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
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Word Origin and History for trials



mid-15c., "act or process of testing," from Anglo-French trial, noun formed from triet "to try" (see try). Sense of "examining and deciding a case in a court of law" is first recorded 1570s; extended to any ordeal by 1590s. As an adjectival phrase, trial-and-error is recorded from 1806. Trial balloon (1939) is congnate of French ballon d'essai.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with trials
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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