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verb trail pronunciation in British English /treɪl/
Word Forms
present tense
present participletrailing
past tensetrailed
past participletrailed
  1. 1
    [intransitive] to move slowly and in a tired or unhappy way, often so that you are a short distance behind other people
    trail after/behind/around:

    My husband usually trails behind me when I’m shopping.

  2. 2
    [intransitive/transitive] mainly journalism to be losing in a competition or election

    A recent poll shows the Democrats trailing the Republicans.

    trail by:

    At the end of the round, Garcia trailed by two strokes.

  3. 3
    [intransitive/transitive] to pull something behind you, or to be pulled behind someone or something

    Trailing his coat in the dirt, he turned towards home.

    I don’t want the dress to trail along the ground.

  4. 4
    [transitive] to leave marks on a surface or a substance in the air as you go through a place

    The dogs came in, trailing mud everywhere.

    a jeep trailing clouds of dust

    1. a.
      [intransitive] if a line of marks or long thin objects trail across a place, they are left there by someone or something
      trail across/over/along:

      Old cables and wires trailed across the garden.

  5. 5
    [transitive] to follow someone secretly in order to learn something about them

    Detectives trailed Evans for weeks.

  6. 6
    [intransitive/transitive] if something trails somewhere, it hangs down from something

    geraniums trailing from terracotta pots

phrasal verbs


… a teaching method in which groups of children learn independently using a computer linked to the internet

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a derogatory word used for referring to people in the banking and investment industry who are thought of as taking serious risks in order to increase their own earnings …

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