- 1[transitive, intransitive] to pull something behind someone or something, usually along the ground; to be pulled along in this way trail something A jeep trailing a cloud of dust was speeding in my direction. I trailed my hand in the water as the boat moved along. (+ adv./prep.) The bride's dress trailed behind her.
- 2 [intransitive] + adv./prep. to walk slowly because you are tired or bored, especially behind someone else The kids trailed along after us while we shopped for clothes.
- 3 [intransitive, transitive] (used especially in the progressive tenses) to be losing a game or other contest The Bulls were trailing 40–35 at halftime. trail by something We were trailing by five points. trail in something This country is still trailing badly in scientific research. trail somebody/something Most Democrats are trailing their Republican rivals in the polls.
- 4 [transitive] trail somebody/something to follow someone or something by looking for signs that show you where they have been The police trailed Dale for days. We sensed we were closing in on the bear as we trailed paw marks through the woods.
- 5 [intransitive] to grow or hang downward over something or along the ground trailing plants
- 6[intransitive] + adv./prep. to move or flow slowly in a thin line behind, away from, or over something Smoke trailed up from the chimney. He had tears trailing down his cheeks. Phrasal Verbstrail away/off
NAmE//treɪl//Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they trail
he / she / it trails
past simple trailed
-ing form trailing