Meaning of “try” in the English Dictionary

"try" in British English

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uk /traɪ/ us /traɪ/

try verb (ATTEMPT)

A2 [ I or T ] to attempt to do something:

Keep trying and you'll find a job eventually.
If I don't get into the academy this year, I'll try again next year.
I've tried really hard but I can't convince him to come.
I'm trying my best/hardest, but I just can't do it.
[ + -ing verb ] Maybe you should try getting up (= you should get up) earlier.

More examples

  • She can be really irritating but I try to ignore her.
  • We must try to spend less money.
  • I never seem to lose any weight, no matter how hard I try.
  • She lay back in the dentist's chair and tried to relax.
  • The driver was peering into the distance trying to read the road sign.

try verb (TEST)

B1 [ T ] to test something to see if it is suitable or useful or if it works:

I tried that recipe you gave me last night.
We don't sell newspapers - have you tried the coffee shop on the corner?
[ + -ing verb ] Try using a different shampoo.
I'd like to try parachuting.
I forgot my door-keys - we'd better try the window (= test it to see if it is open).
tried and tested/trusted US tried and true

used by many people and proved to be effective:

Most people would prefer to stick to tried and tested methods of birth control.


uk /traɪ/ us /traɪ/

try noun (ATTEMPT)

B2 [ C usually singular ] an attempt to do something:

They might still have tickets left - why don't you give it a try?
This will be her third try at jumping the bar.
You could ask him if he's willing - it's worth a try.

More examples

  • I can't get the cork out of the bottle - could you have a try?
  • I've never done it before but I'd like to have a try .
  • After several tries to pronounce my name properly, he asked if he could just call me Sam instead!
  • Hey - that was a really good try! You'll soon be able to play the whole tune.
  • Your little brother wants a try - pass him the ball, Katie.

(Definition of “try” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"try" in American English

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us /trɑɪ/

try verb (ATTEMPT)

[ I/T ] to make an effort to do something:

[ I ] Try to open this jar for me.
[ I ] You’ll have to try harder.
[ T ] I’m trying my best.
[ I ] Maybe you should try getting up earlier (= should wake earlier).

try verb (TEST)

[ T ] to test something to see if it is suitable or useful, or if it will work:

Have you tried that new recipe yet?
I want to try scuba diving.
Try the back door (= see if it is open).


[ T ] law to examine a person accused of committing a crime in a court of law to decide if the person is guilty:

He was tried for fraud.

trynoun [ C ]

us /trɑɪ/

try noun [ C ] (ATTEMPT)

an effort to do something; an attempt:

This will be her third try at an Olympic medal.
I decided to give skiing a try.

(Definition of “try” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"try" in Business English

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tryverb [ T ]

uk /traɪ/ us LAW

to bring someone who is accused of a crime to a court of law to decide if they are guilty:

be tried for sth The brothers were tried for financial crimes involving fraudulent use of depositors' money.
Their case is being tried next week.

(Definition of “try” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

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