Date: 1200-1300
Language: Old French
Origin: trier 'to pick out, sift', probably from Late Latin tritare 'to rub to pieces', from Latin terere 'to rub'


1 verb
try1 S1 W1 past tense and past participle tried, present participle trying, third person singular tries


[intransitive and transitive] to attempt to do or get something:
Let's have a rest and then we'll try again.
try to do something
He tried to control his voice.
She was trying not to cry.
try and do something
Try and take some form of daily exercise.
try hard/desperately (to do something) (=make a lot of effort to do something)
She dabbed at her face and tried hard not to sniff.
I tried everything to lose weight with no success.
try your best/hardest (to do something) (=make as much effort as possible to do something)
I tried my best to comfort her.
I tried and tried (=kept making an effort) and eventually I was offered a job.
Try as he might (=as hard as he could), he could not get the incident out of his mind.
it wasn't for lack/want of trying (=used to say that if someone does not achieve something it is not because they have not tried)
They didn't get any goals, but it wasn't for the lack of trying.
you couldn't do something if you tried (=used to say that someone does not have the skill or ability to do something)
She couldn't speak French if she tried.


[transitive] to do or use something for a short while to discover if it is suitable, successful, enjoyable etc:
It works really well - you should try it.
try doing something
They decided they would try living in America for a while.
Try logging off and logging on again.
try something new/different (=do or use something that is different from what you usually do or use)
If I 'm going out for a meal, I prefer to try something different.
try something on somebody/something
We tried the machine on hardwood and soft wood.
try somebody on something
Petra's trying the baby on solid foods.
try something for size (=put on a piece of clothing or test something to find out if it is the correct size or suitable)
Always try a sleeping bag for size before you buy it.


[transitive] to taste food or drink to find out if you like it [= taste]:
Would you like to try some crisps?

try to find somebody/something

[intransitive and transitive] to go to a place or person, or call them, in order to find something or someone:
Sorry, he's not in. Would you like to try again later?
Let's try Mouncy Street. He could be there.


[transitive] to attempt to open a door, window etc in order to see if it is locked:
She tried the door and it opened.
He tried the handle but the door was locked.


[transitive usually passive] to examine and judge a legal case, or someone who is thought to be guilty of a crime in a court [↪ trial]
be tried for something
He was tried for attempting to murder his wife.
The defence argued that a regional court was not competent to try their case.

try somebody's patience

to make someone feel impatient [↪ trying]:
The programs take too long to load and try the patience of young pupils.

try your hand at something

to try a new activity in order to see whether it interests you or whether you are good at it:
I tried my hand at water-skiing for the first time.

try your luck

to try to achieve something or get something you want, usually by taking a risk:
After the war my father went to Canada to try his luck at farming.

try it on (with somebody)

British English spoken
a) to behave badly in order to find out how bad you can be before people become angry:
She is naughty, that one. She tries it on with me sometimes!
b) to attempt to start a sexual relationship with someone:
When I came back in, one of the men was trying it on with my wife!

try for something

phrasal verb
to try and get something you really want, such as a job, a prize, or a chance to study somewhere:
I decided I must try for some paid work.
We have been trying for a baby (=trying to have a baby) for nine years.

try something ↔ on

phrasal verb
to put on a piece of clothing to see if it fits you or if it suits you, especially in a shop:
Meg was trying on some red sandals.

try something ↔ out

phrasal verb
1 to test something such as a method or a piece of equipment to see if it is effective or works properly [↪ try-out]:
She enjoys trying out new ways of doing things.
2 to practise a skill in order to improve it
try something ↔ out on
She enjoyed trying her French out on Jean-Pierre.

try out for something

phrasal verb
to try to be chosen as a member of a team, for a part in a play etc [= audition for; ↪ tryout]:
In high school, I tried out for all the female leads.

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