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(1)   The act of testing something
"In the experimental trials the amount of carbon was measured separately"
"He called each flip of the coin a new trial"
(2)   The act of undergoing testing
"He survived the great test of battle"
"Candidates must compete in a trial of skill"
(3)   (law) legal proceedings consisting of the judicial examination of issues by a competent tribunal
"Most of these complaints are settled before they go to trial"
(4)   (law) the determination of a person's innocence or guilt by due process of law
"He had a fair trial and the jury found him guilty"
(5)   Trying something to find out about it
"A sample for ten days free trial"
"A trial of progesterone failed to relieve the pain"
(6)   An annoying or frustrating or catastrophic event
"His mother-in-law's visits were a great trial for him"
"Life is full of tribulations"
"A visitation of the plague"
(7)   (sports) a preliminary competition to determine qualifications
"The trials for the semifinals began yesterday"

Etymology 1

From trial < triet (“to try”) < trier < trier (“to pick out, cull”) < Gallo-Romance *triare, of unknown origin.


  1. an opportunity to test something out; a test.
    They will perform the trials for the new equipment next week.
  2. appearance at judicial court.
  3. a difficult experience.
  4. an annoying person
    That boy was a trial to his parents


  1. Pertaining to a trial or test.
  2. Attempted on a provisional or experimental basis.


  1. To carry out a series of tests on (a new product, procedure etc.) before marketing or implementing it.
    The warning system was extensively trialled before being fitted to all our vehicles.
  2. To try out (a new player) in a sports team.
    The team trialled a new young goalkeeper in Saturday's match, with mixed results.

Etymology 2

From trialis (“three”), an adjective formed from tres (“three”) + adjective suffix -alis.


  1. Characterized by having three (usually equivalent) components.
  2. Triple.
  3. pertaining to a language form referring to three of something, as people; contrast singular, dual and plural.