Etymology: Middle English, perhaps from Anglo-French *trailer, alteration of trainer to drag, trail on the ground — more at train
Date: 13th century
a. to hang down so as to drag along or sweep the ground
b. to extend over a surface in a loose or straggling manner <a vine that trails over the ground> c. to grow to such length as to droop over toward the ground <trailing branches of a weeping birch> 2. a. to walk or proceed draggingly, heavily, or wearily ; plod, trudge b. to lag behind ; do poorly in relation to others 3. to move, flow, or extend slowly in thin streams <smoke trailing from chimneys> 4. a. to extend in an erratic or uneven course or line ; straggle b. dwindle <her voice trailing off> 5. to follow a trail ; track game transitive verb 1. a. to draw or drag loosely along a surface ; allow to sweep the ground b. haul, tow 2. a. to drag (as a limb or the body) heavily or wearily b. to carry or bring along as an addition, burden, or encumbrance c. to draw along in one's wake 3. a. to follow upon the scent or trace of ; track b. to follow in the footsteps of ; pursue c. to follow along behind d. to lag behind (as a competitor) Synonyms: see chase II. noun Date: 14th century 1. something that trails or is trailed: as a. a trailing plant b. the train of a gown c. a trailing arrangement (as of flowers) ; spray d. the part of a gun carriage that rests on the ground when the piece is unlimbered 2. a. something that follows or moves along as if being drawn along ; train <a trail of admirers> b. (1) the streak produced by a meteor (2) a continuous line produced photographically by permitting the image of a celestial body (as a star) to move over the plate c. a chain of consequences ; aftermath <the…movement left a trail of bitterness and prejudice behind it — Paul Blanshard> 3. a. a trace or mark left by something that has passed or been drawn along ; scent, track <a trail of blood> b. (1) a track made by passage especially through a wilderness (2) a marked or established path or route especially through a forest or mountainous region c. a course followed or to be followed <hit the campaign trail> • trailless adjective
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.