trail Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary Cambridge dictionaries logo
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Meaning of “trail” in the English Dictionary

"trail" in British English

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trailnoun

uk   /treɪl/  us   /treɪl/
  • trail noun (SIGNS)

C2 [C] the smell or series of marks left by a person, animal, or thing as it moves along: The dogs are trained to follow the trail left by the fox. He left a trail of muddy footprints behind him.
[S] various pieces of information that together show where someone you are searching for has gone: The police admit that the robbers have left no trail for them to follow up.
be on the trail of sb/sth
to be searching for someone or something by examining information you find about where they went: The three men went to the Bahamas, on the trail of a sunken 17th-century galleon full of treasure.

trailverb

uk   /treɪl/  us   /treɪl/
  • trail verb (MOVE SLOWLY)

[I or T, usually + adv/prep] to (allow something to) move slowly along the ground or through the air or water, after someone or something: Katherine, your skirt's trailing in the mud! As the boat moved along, he trailed his hand in the water.
C2 [I usually + adv/prep] to move slowly and without energy or enthusiasm: The delegates trailed back into the conference room for the afternoon session. After a mile or two the youngest children were trailing behind.

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Phrasal verbs
(Definition of trail from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"trail" in American English

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trailnoun [C]

 us   /treɪl/
  • trail noun [C] (PATH)

a path through the countryside, often made or used for a particular purpose: a bike/mountain/nature trail fig. Presidential candidates were on the campaign trail in Mississippi yesterday.
A trail is also a series of marks left by a person, animal, or thing as it moves along: The kids left a trail of muddy footprints across the kitchen floor.

trailverb [I/T]

 us   /treɪl/
  • trail verb [I/T] (FOLLOW)

to follow or come behind: [T] Ray trailed Kate up to the porch. [I always + adv/prep] A string of police cars led the president’s limousine and others trailed behind.
In a competition, to trail is to be losing to someone: [I] Dallas trailed 34-21 with less than seven minutes to play in the football game. [T] Bush trailed the governor by only 4 percentage points. [I] Though trailing in the polls, she predicted victory.
Phrasal verbs
(Definition of trail from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"trail" in Business English

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trailverb

uk   us   /treɪl/
[I or T] to be less successful than competitors or than expected: This company's shares have left most rivals trailing. Precious-metal stocks trailed, at 124.35.trail behind sth Prices of mortgage-backed securities trailed behind the gains of the Treasury. Internet access in the U.S. trails Japan when it comes to speed.
[T] to advertise something before it is available to buy, see, use, etc: The heavily trailed announcements on ISA changes were widely welcomed. The home secretary trailed his new law in an article in a newspaper yesterday.
[I or T] to happen after or follow something: trail behind sth The service, free at the point of use, perpetually trails behind demand. History suggests that consumer spending declines usually trail consumer confidence declines by about 3 months.
Phrasal verbs

trailnoun [C, usually singular]

uk   us   /treɪl/
a series of activities that someone does in order to achieve something: acquisition/campaign/comeback trail The bank's acquisition trail across the globe might slow a little although it continues to look at potential opportunities.
be on/go on/hit the trail
to be trying to find, get, or achieve something: He tells candidates to raise money early, before they hit the trail for speeches and handshakes.
blaze a/the trail
to be the first to do something new: Netscape and Hotmail were both swallowed up after blazing the trail for larger, less agile competitors. I'm not blazing a trail for women, I'm doing this for myself.
(hot) on the trail (of sth)
very close to finding or achieving something: NPR's reporter is hot on the trail of the story.
leave a trail of sth
to leave a series or number of things behind you: His company went into liquidation leaving a trail of debts. Over the past 12 months, the company has underperformed the index by over 20%, leaving a trail of disappointed investors.
(Definition of trail from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
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“trail” in American English

“trail” in Business English

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