Definition of contrail in English:



North American
  • another term for vapour trail
    • ‘Sometimes, when we pass very close to or even fly through contrails left by another jet, we can see the twisting motion caused by the jet exhaust which created them.’
    • ‘Higher and farther to the west the contrails of the aircraft bent around the mountains and merged with the clouds, pointing north.’
    • ‘The jets attempted to intercept and identify the source of the contrail, but no visual or confirmed radar contact was made, he added.’
    • ‘We also saw lots of jet contrails in the blue sky above.’
    • ‘The jet engine contrails have have caused most or all the warming observed in the United States for nearly 20 years.’
    • ‘However, the fact that the volume of air traffic is set to rapidly grow in coming years makes it important to investigate the effects of contrails on our climate.’
    • ‘There were no vapor trails or contrails coming off the craft either.’
    • ‘They speculated that the nuclei of the ice ball could have been lingering jet contrails that then descended through a nearly saturated atmosphere.’
    • ‘If the aircraft was making a contrail, the pilot was to turn back.’
    • ‘The reason, it turns out, is that American airspace was shut down, and no airplanes means no contrails.’
    • ‘Commercial airline pilots later reported the contrail over Florida and later over Indiana.’
    • ‘A couple years ago, I was fascinated to hear about the possibility that airplane contrails have an effect on the weather.’
    • ‘The thick, twisting contrails still prevented any visual sightings.’
    • ‘I suggest it might be possible that fast moving jets generating energy and contrails in an electrically charged atmosphere may be able to form red plasma orbs that were imaged by Nicolas.’
    • ‘Like other high, thin clouds, contrails reflect sunlight back into space and cool the planet.’
    • ‘It's hard to make a smoke plume look more threatening than a far-off contrail.’
    • ‘Although this complicates global warming arguments, it offers further evidence that contrails do affect climate in some way.’
    • ‘There was no smoke or contrails behind the craft, and it made no noise in the perfectly clear sky.’


1940s: abbreviation of condensation trail.