• Try


    • US enPR: trÄ«, IPA: /tɹaɪ/
    • UK enPR: trÄ«, IPA: /tɹʌɪ/
    • Rhymes: -aɪ

    Origin 1

    From Middle English trien ("to try a legal case"), from Anglo-Norman trier ("to try a case"), Old French trier ("to choose, pick out or separate from others, sift, cull"), of uncertain origin. Believed to be a metathetic variation of Old French tirer ("to pull out, snatch"), from Gothic 𐍄𐌹𐍂𐌰𐌽 (tiran, "to tear away, remove"), from Proto-Germanic *teraną ("to tear, tear apart"), from Proto-Indo-European *derə- ("to tear, tear apart"), see tear. Related to Occitan triar ("to pick out, choose from among others").

    Replaced native Middle English cunnen ("to try") (from Old English cunnian), Middle English fandien ("to try, prove") (from Old English fandian), and Middle English costnien ("to try, tempt, test") (from Old English costnian).

    Full definition of try


    1. To attempt; to endeavour. Followed by infinitive.
      I tried to rollerblade, but I couldn’t.   I'll come to dinner soon. I'm trying to beat this level first.
      • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, The Mirror and the Lamp Chapter 22, Not unnaturally, “Auntie” took this communication in bad part. Thus outraged, she showed herself to be a bold as well as a furious virago. Next day she found her way to their lodgings and tried to recover her ward by the hair of the head.
    2. (obsolete) To separate (precious metal etc.) from the ore by melting; to purify, refine.
    3. (obsolete) To divide or separate, as one sort from another; to winnow; to sift; to pick out; frequently followed by out.to try out the wild corn from the good
    4. To make an experiment. Usually followed by a present participle.
      I tried mixing more white paint to get a lighter shade.
    5. To experience; to have or gain knowledge of by experience.
      • DrydenTry the Libyan heat or Scythian cold.
    6. To work on something.
      You are trying too hard.
    7. To put to test.
      I shall try my skills on this;  you are trying my patience
      • 1898, Winston Churchill, The Celebrity Chapter 4, The Celebrity, by arts unknown, induced Mrs. Judge Short and two other ladies to call at Mohair on an afternoon when Mr. Cooke was trying a trotter on the track. The three returned wondering and charmed with Mrs. Cooke; they were sure she had had no hand in the furnishing of that atrocious house.
      • 1922, E. F. Benson, Miss Mapp, :“So mousie shall only find tins on the floor now,” thought Miss Mapp. “Mousie shall try his teeth on tins.”
      • 2013, David Van Tassel, Lee DeHaan, Wild Plants to the Rescue, Plant breeding is always a numbers game....The wild species we use are rich in genetic variation, and individual plants are highly heterozygous and do not breed true. In addition, we are looking for rare alleles, so the more plants we try, the better.
    8. To taste, sample, etc.
      Try this—you’ll love#Verb
    9. To put on trial.
      He was tried and executed.
    10. (nautical) To lie to in heavy weather under just sufficient sail to head into the wind.
    11. (obsolete) To do; to fare.
      How do you try! (i.e., how do you do?)
    12. To prove by experiment; to apply a test to, for the purpose of determining the quality; to examine; to prove; to test.to try weights or measures by a standard; to try a person's opinions
      • ShakespeareLet the end try the man.
    13. To strain; to subject to excessive tests.The light tries his eyes.Repeated failures try one's patience.
    14. To settle; to decide; to determine; specifically, to decide by an appeal to arms.to try rival claims by a duel; to try conclusions
      • ShakespeareLeft I the court, to see this quarrel tried.

    Usage notes

    (to attempt) This is a catenative verb that takes the to infinitive. In the future tense, it can take and instead of to.

    I'm going to try and distract him.

    (to make an experiment) This is a catenative verb that takes the gerund (-ing).



    Related terms

    Terms etymologically related to the verb try



    (plural tries)
    1. An attempt.I gave unicycling a try but I couldn’t do it.
    2. An act of tasting or sampling.I gave sushi a try but I didn’t like it.
    3. (rugby) A score in rugby, analogous to a touchdown in American football.Today I scored my first try.
      • 2011, October 1, Tom Fordyce, Rugby World Cup 2011: England 16-12 Scotland, But two penalties and a drop-goal from Jonny Wilkinson, despite a host of other wayward attempts, plus a late try from Chris Ashton were enough to send a misfiring England through.
    4. (UK, dialect, obsolete) A screen, or sieve, for grain.


    Derived terms

    Origin 2

    Probably from Old French trié.



    1. (obsolete) Fine, excellent.
      • 1596, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, V.2:But he her suppliant hands, those hands of gold,
        And eke her feete, those feete of silver trye, … Chopt off ….


    © Wiktionary