- 1[transitive, intransitive] to pull something behind somebody/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 somebody else The kids trailed around after us while we shopped for clothes.
- 3[intransitive, transitive] (used especially in the progressive tenses) to be losing a game or other contest United were trailing 2–0 at half-time. trail by something We were trailing by five points. trail in something This country is still trailing badly in scientific research. trail somebody/something The Conservatives are trailing Labour in the opinion polls.
- 4[transitive] trail somebody/something to follow somebody/something by looking for signs that show you where they have been The police trailed Dale for days. We could smell the scent of a fox as we trailed paw marks through the wood.
- 5[intransitive] to grow or hang downwards over something or along the ground; to move downwards over something trailing plants He had tears trailing down his cheeks.
- 6to advertise a film/movie, TV programme, etc. in advance It was trailed heavily as the Big Film of the New Year. Word Origin Middle English (as a verb): from Old French traillier
BrE BrE//treɪl//; NAmE NAmE//treɪl//Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they trail
BrE BrE//treɪl//; NAmE NAmE//treɪl//he / she / it trails
BrE BrE//treɪlz//; NAmE NAmE//treɪlz//past simple trailed
BrE BrE//treɪld//; NAmE NAmE//treɪld//past participle trailed
BrE BrE//treɪld//; NAmE NAmE//treɪld//-ing form trailing
BrE BrE//ˈtreɪlɪŋ//; NAmE NAmE//ˈtreɪlɪŋ//