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See also: TRY and trý



Etymology 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. It is probably related to Italian tritare (to grind; to sort; to analyze) (see also French trier). Alternatively, 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 *der- (to tear, tear apart), see tear. Related to Occitan triar (to pick out, choose from among others), although the Occitan verb could also be a borrowing from French. Alternatively or by confluence, the Old French is from Gallo-Roman Vulgar Latin *triare, of unknown origin.

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).

Alternative forms


try (third-person singular simple present tries, present participle trying, simple past and past participle tried)

  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[illiam] B[abington] Maxwell, chapter XLIV, in The Mirror and the Lamp, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, →OCLC, page 361:
      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.
    • 1980, Leigh Brackett et al., The Empire Strikes Back:
      Skywalker: Alright... I'll give it a try.
      Yoda: NO! Try not! Do, or do not. There is no "try".
    • 2014 June 21, “Magician’s brain”, in The Economist, volume 411, number 8892:
      [Isaac Newton] was obsessed with alchemy. He spent hours copying alchemical recipes and trying to replicate them in his laboratory. He believed that the Bible contained numerological codes.
  2. (obsolete) To divide; to separate.
    1. To separate (precious metal etc.) from the ore by melting; to purify, refine.
    2. (one sort from another) To winnow; to sift; to pick out; frequently followed by out.
      to try out the wild corn from the good
    3. (nautical) To extract oil from blubber or fat; to melt down blubber to obtain oil
    4. To extract wax from a honeycomb
  3. To test, to work out.
    1. To make an experiment. Usually followed by a present participle.
      I tried mixing more white paint to get a lighter shade.
    2. To put to test.
      I shall try my skills on this.
      • 1897 December (indicated as 1898), Winston Churchill, chapter IV, in The Celebrity: An Episode, New York, N.Y.: The Macmillan Company; London: Macmillan & Co., Ltd., →OCLC, page 58:
        The Celebrity, by arts unknown, induced Mrs. Judge Short and two other ladies to call at Mohair on a certain 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, p. 89:
        “So mousie shall only find tins on the floor now,” thought Miss Mapp. “Mousie shall try his teeth on tins.”
      • 2013 May-June, David Van Tassel, Lee DeHaan, “Wild Plants to the Rescue”, in American Scientist, volume 101, number 3:
        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.
    3. (specifically) To test someone's patience.
      You are trying my patience.
      Don't try me.
    4. (figuratively, chiefly used in the imperative) To receive an imminent attack; to take.
      • 1999, Mona the Vampire, "The X-Change Student" (season 1, episode 6a):
        Mona: Try this vampire bolt on for size!
        Cedric: Why don't you try this alien bolt?
    5. To taste, sample, etc.
      • 1986 January 22, Bill Watterson, Calvin & Hobbes (comic):
        Calvin: What's this disgusting slimy blob?
        Dad: Try it. You'll love it.
      Oh, you need to try the soup of the day!
    6. 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
    7. (with indirect interrogative clause) To attempt to determine (by experiment or effort).
      I'll try whether I can make it across town on foot.
      • 1785, James Ridgway, A Dictionary of Literary Conversation:
        Sir, the doctors and apothecaries are the greatest thieves in the world; they are always trying which can rob their patients the most.
    8. (law) To put on trial.
      He was tried and executed.
      • 1900, Charles W[addell] Chesnutt, chapter I, in The House Behind the Cedars, Boston, Mass., New York, N.Y.: Houghton, Mifflin and Company , →OCLC:
        The murderer, he recalled, had been tried and sentenced to imprisonment for life, but was pardoned by a merciful governor after serving a year of his sentence.
      • 1987, Hadi Khorsandi, “It Didn’t Quite Work Out—2”, in Ehssan Javan, transl., The Ayatollah and I:
        I sit in front of the mirror and try myself. I am no impartial judge, otherwise I would have had myself executed several times over by now.
      • 2017 August 27, Brandon Nowalk, “Game Of Thrones slows down for the longest, and best, episode of the season (newbies)”, in The Onion AV Club:
        Sansa pretends to gather everyone in the great hall to try Arya, and at the last moment reveals she’s actually trying Littlefinger for murder and treason, although I think everyone in that room already knew what was going on except him.
  4. To experiment, to strive.
    1. To have or gain knowledge of by experience.
      • 1697, Virgil, “The First Pastoral. Or, Tityrus and Melibœus.”, in John Dryden, transl., The Works of Virgil: Containing His Pastorals, Georgics, and Æneis. , London: Jacob Tonson, , →OCLC, page 4, line 88:
        [] try the Lybian Heat, or Scythian Cold.
      • 1667, John Milton, “Book IX”, in Paradise Lost. , London: [Samuel Simmons], and are to be sold by Peter Parker ; nd by Robert Boulter ; nd Matthias Walker, , →OCLC; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: , London: Basil Montagu Pickering , 1873, →OCLC:
        Never more
        Mean I to trie what rash untri'd I sought,
        The paine of absence from thy sight.
    2. To work on something with one's best effort and focus.
      Dad, for God's sake, I'm trying my best!
      You are trying too hard.
    3. (obsolete) To do; to fare.
      How do you try! (i.e., how do you do?)
    4. To settle; to decide; to determine; specifically, to decide by an appeal to arms.
      to try rival claims by a duel;  to try conclusions
    5. (euphemistic, of a couple) To attempt to conceive a child.
  5. (nautical) To lie to in heavy weather under just sufficient sail to head into the wind.
  6. To strain; to subject to excessive tests.
    The light tries his eyes.
    Repeated failures try one's patience.
  7. (slang, chiefly African-American Vernacular, used with another verb) To want, to desire.
    I am really not trying to hear you talk about my mama like that.
Usage notes
  • (to attempt): This is a catenative verb that takes the to infinitive. Conjugations unmarked for tense can take and instead of to, for which also see Citations:try.
    I'm going to try to distract him.
    I'm going to try and distract him.
And still requires that the two verbs be in the same mood, as and normally does, but the second verb must still be in the bare form as it is after to. For this reason, and can only be used where both try and the subsequent verb are in the unmarked form. Accordingly, He will try and explain, I try and explain, and the imperative Try and explain occur, but not *He tries and explain/explains, *He tried and explain/explained, or *He is trying and explain/explaining. In the latter contexts, only to will be used: He tried to explain. Because try and is often prescriptively deprecated, it is best avoided in formal writing (aiming for the audience's approval), but descriptively it is a fact that try and is an idiomatic form.
  • (to make an experiment): This is a catenative verb that takes the gerund (-ing).
  • See Appendix:English catenative verbs
  • In older forms of English, when the pronoun thou was in active use, and verbs used -est for distinct second-person singular indicative forms, the verb try had the form triest, and had triedst for its past tense.
  • Similarly, when the ending -eth was in active use for third-person singular present indicative forms, the form trieth was used.
Derived terms
Terms derived from the verb try
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


English Wikipedia has an article on:

try (plural tries)

  1. An attempt.
    I gave unicycling a try but I couldn’t do it.
    • 1925 July – 1926 May, A[rthur] Conan Doyle, “(please specify the chapter number)”, in The Land of Mist (eBook no. 0601351h.html), Australia: Project Gutenberg Australia, published April 2019:
      There was the day also when his favourite right uppercut had connected in most accurate and rhythmical fashion with the protruded chin of Bull Wardell of Whitechapel, whereby Silas put himself in the way of a Lonsdale Belt and a try for the championship.
  2. An act of tasting or sampling.
    I gave sushi a try but I didn’t like it.
  3. (rugby) A score in rugby league and rugby union, 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”, in BBC Sport:
      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.
  5. (American football) A field goal or extra point
  6. (chess) A move that almost solves a chess problem, except that Black has a unique defense.
Derived terms
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


Etymology 2

Probably from Old French trié.


try (comparative more try, superlative most try)

  1. (obsolete) Fine, excellent.



Cornish cardinal numbers
 <  2 3 4  > 
    Cardinal : try

Alternative forms

  • (Standard Written Form) trei
  • (Standard Written Form) tri


From Proto-Brythonic *tri, from Proto-Celtic *trīs, from Proto-Indo-European *tréyes.



  1. (Standard Cornish) three

See also

  • (cardinal number): Previous: dew. Next: peswar



try m (plural tries)

  1. try (a score in rugby)
    Synonym: ensaio
  2. (programming) try (block of code that may trigger exceptions)





  1. third-person singular present indicative/future of troi


Welsh mutation
radical soft nasal aspirate
try dry nhry thry
Note: Some of these forms may be hypothetical. Not every possible mutated form of every word actually occurs.