Definition of trail verb from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

     

    trail

     verb
    verb
    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//
     
     
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  1. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
  6. 6to advertise a film/movie, TV programme, etc. in advance It was trailed heavily as the Big Film of the New Year.
  7. Word Origin Middle English (as a verb): from Old French traillier ‘to tow’, or Middle Low German treilen ‘haul a boat’, based on Latin tragula ‘dragnet’, from trahere ‘to pull’. Compare with trawl. The noun originally denoted the train of a robe, later generalized to denote something trailing.Extra examples Don’t let the blanket trail on the ground. Her scarf was trailing in the mud. I trailed wearily after the others. Liverpool are now trailing badly in the league. They spent their lives trailing around the country. They were trailing by 12 points until the last few minutes of the game. I spent months trailing from one audition to the next. Lazio were trailing to a 47th-minute goal by Roma. Sharks were trailing the ship. She trailed her hand in the cool water as the boat moved along. The UK is trailing in many areas of research. The bride’s dress trailed behind her. The last walkers came trailing down the hill. The little boy trailed a dirty old blanket behind him. The police trailed Dale for years. We walked home in the rain, with the kids trailing along behind. Phrasal Verbstrail off
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: trail