Main definitions of try in English

: try1TRY2

try1

verb

  • 1no object Make an attempt or effort to do something.

    with infinitive ‘he tried to regain his breath’
    ‘I started to try and untangle the mystery’
    ‘I decided to try writing fiction’
    with object ‘three times he tried the manoeuvre and three times he failed’
    • ‘I tried to be a sales executive, a sailor and even got married to try and fit into the role of a good wife.’
    • ‘This week I tried to make an effort shake the lethargy which has plagued me recently.’
    • ‘The white nuns who came here made a big effort to try and teach your mother.’
    • ‘If she can just make an effort to try and be better, she can actually live a much better life.’
    • ‘Now the next step is launching an effort to try and make sure that we can take costs out of the system.’
    • ‘I have spent a lot of time, effort and money to try and put together the next project.’
    • ‘If that is the case, you really should make an effort to try and catch him while you can.’
    • ‘I wish that there were attempts to try and circulate the information to young women that they do have a choice.’
    • ‘Either way, I am going to start making a dedicated effort to try and stop using those words myself.’
    • ‘I made one last effort to try and reason with our doctor, but it was all for nothing.’
    • ‘He grabbed one of the snowshoes and with a bit of effort tried to clear some of the snow.’
    • ‘We were disrupted by efforts to try and merge our information systems and find new headquarters.’
    • ‘With effort, he tried to sit up and the hot, white pain that coursed through him was more than he could bear.’
    • ‘He opened his eyes again with great effort and tried to comprehend what he was looking at.’
    • ‘All members and players please try and make an effort to attend meeting as it is a very important event.’
    • ‘We'll try and play the way we have tried to play the last two Test matches.’
    • ‘She tried to make herself fall asleep so she could try and forget the situation she was in.’
    • ‘So we though we would give it a try and much to our surprise from the very first time that we tried to grow these blood vessels it worked.’
    • ‘I didn't try and listen or believe your side of the story even when you tried to tell me.’
    • ‘Nash tried to brake and the last thing I remember was his arm flinging out to try and stop me from flying out of the car.’
    attempt, endeavour, make an effort, exert oneself, seek, strive, struggle, do one's best, do one's utmost, do all one can
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1also try something outwith object Use, test, or do (something new or different) in order to see if it is suitable, effective, or pleasant.
      ‘everyone wanted to know if I'd tried jellied eel’
      ‘these methods are tried and tested’
      • ‘Now we have tried and tested it with bluechips and there are definite signs of an upturn.’
      • ‘Our combinations are tried and tested in many cases, which does help.’
      • ‘He said there was no reason the new system could not work, that it was tried and tested all over Europe.’
      • ‘There are many tried and tested methods that have been used in Europe before.’
      • ‘A few approaches to this problem have been tried in different countries in the last two decades.’
      • ‘Popular-yet-dormant brands, and tried and tested formulae are revived and revisited all the time.’
      • ‘Parents will be able to try different sorts and if they like them can buy their own stock.’
      • ‘Sadly, the idea of the game has been tried and tested so many times it seems old hat now.’
      • ‘Several top football countries use this system so it is tried and tested.’
      • ‘This was our tried and tested pattern for five out of the six days.’
      • ‘Science fact is that IVF with donor eggs is a tried and tested way to help infertile couples have children.’
      • ‘To scientists a theory is an idea that has been tried and tested by experiments and has passed every test.’
      • ‘Granted it wasn't tried and tested, but, it did have a basis on common sense.’
      • ‘His methods, he admits, are not new but have been tried and tested in Canada.’
      • ‘They are all productions that are tried and tested and that are not usually that complex.’
      • ‘The oil has been tried and tested throughout the season and offers extremely good durability.’
      • ‘They are the result of centuries of experience and wisdom, tried and tested.’
      • ‘The important point is that the stallion will have been tried and tested in the toughest race of all.’
      • ‘Please bear in mind that I have seen a lot of therapists who try different kinds of therapy.’
      • ‘The genre has certain formulaic elements, tried and tested in their saleability.’
      test, try out, check out, put to the test, experiment with
      test, trial, experiment with, pilot
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2try for Attempt to achieve or attain.
      ‘they decided to try for another baby’
      • ‘The couple had been trying for a baby for a while but Judith had trouble conceiving because she suffers from polycystic ovaries.’
      • ‘Existing advice is for pregnant women and those trying for a baby is not to eat large amounts of the species because of concerns over mercury.’
      • ‘We loved each other, we were trying for a baby and I knew it was what he wanted.’
      • ‘Today, you'll be pleased to hear that Amelia has got married to a lovely chap and they're now trying for a baby.’
      • ‘Despite everything, a year later they decided to try for a baby again.’
      • ‘They are reportedly trying for a reunion with the help of a marriage counsellor.’
      • ‘His devoted parents have been trying for several years to have a baby whose donated stem cells might restore him to health.’
      • ‘Regular exercise is also important for men and women to improve their health before trying for a baby.’
      • ‘The reason for this is because they had been trying for a baby for the last few years.’
      • ‘She and her husband were trying for children when he was struck down with meningitis and was maintained on a life support machine in a coma.’
      • ‘She and her husband have been trying for a baby for years and she's finally pregnant.’
      • ‘You may feel you're ready to start trying for a baby immediately.’
      • ‘To be classified as infertile, the couple need to be actively trying for a baby for one year.’
      • ‘The first two attempts had failed and the third attempt was my last chance to try for a baby.’
      • ‘But he says he is trying for roles that have him playing more than just the perfect romantic.’
      • ‘One in seven UK couples trying for a baby experience delays in conceiving.’
      • ‘He has then agreed that we can then start trying for a family.’
      • ‘Sheila is determined to rebuild her family and the couple are already trying for another baby.’
      • ‘The devastated parents, who already had a daughter, risked trying for another child and had a second healthy baby girl.’
      • ‘The couple decided to try for a baby without seeking specialist advice in case they were warned off due to the risks involved.’
    3. 1.3try out forNorth American Compete or audition for (a post or place on a team)
      ‘she tried out for the team’
      • ‘Actually, I'm trying out for the tennis team tomorrow afternoon, so I could comment on that.’
      • ‘‘I heard from Michael you're trying out for the swim team,’ he then said.’
      • ‘Then he went back to his conversation about trying out for the football team.’
      • ‘Are you going to be trying out for the cheerleading team?’
      • ‘She was still trying to think up a way to get out of trying out for the dance team.’
      • ‘Simon was so good, in fact, that he went on to compete at the national level before trying out for professional teams, although his eyesight, of all things, kept him from making the grade.’
      • ‘‘I tried out for every sports team a freshman could try out for and was cut in the first round every time,’ explains Fiona, 14.’
      • ‘‘Hey, I heard he's trying out for the football team,’ Mackenzie suddenly remembered.’
      • ‘Tanya tries out for the soccer team but doesn't make the cut.’
      • ‘She decided to enroll at and compete for UCLA in the fall, instead of trying out for Canada's team that will compete at the World Championships in late October.’
      • ‘By the way, you said you play tennis - are you interested in trying out for the team?’
      • ‘She must be as excited as me before freshman year when I was trying out for the varsity team for the first time.’
      • ‘Go for honor roll, or try out for the softball team.’
      • ‘If there was another girl trying out for the team, Alex was going to make sure she was good.’
      • ‘So if any of you are interested in coming and trying out for this audition then grab one of these papers on my desk before you leave class.’
      • ‘State rules even barred them from trying out for boys' teams.’
      • ‘Rae was trying out for the track-and-field team and the newspaper as a sports writer.’
      • ‘Natalie is trying out for the school team on January 22.’
      • ‘Mark and Benny were trying out for the hockey team.’
      • ‘Of course, they wanted to know why she wasn't trying out for the basketball team the next year.’
    4. 1.4with object Attempt to contact.
      ‘I've tried the apartment, but the number is engaged’
      • ‘We tried the apartment, but after that we didn't know where to call.’
      • ‘He tried the house, but we were not home.’
    5. 1.5with object Push or pull (a door or window) to determine whether it is locked.
      ‘I tried the doors, but they were locked’
      • ‘Kate tried the door when she finally got there but it was locked and her key didn't work.’
      • ‘I stopped a foot away from the door at the end of the hallway and tried the door handle.’
      • ‘Bernard paid for his tea and took the lift to the 2nd floor and tried the door of the banquet hall, which opened.’
      • ‘Sadia tries the door to see how sturdy it is and checks in which direction it opens.’
      • ‘He tried the door again and discovered that it wasn't locked, just a little stuck.’
      • ‘Why they didn't try the front door was a mystery, but not a mystery she wanted to solve.’
      • ‘Then, stealthily, the person darted over to another door and tried the handle.’
      • ‘He knocks, then disappears around the side of the house and tries the back door.’
      • ‘After looking through the letter box the youth tried the front door and went inside the house.’
      • ‘Getting no answer at the back door, he tried it and found it opened to his push.’
      • ‘The Post Office was closed after the incident and this afternoon local people were trying the front door.’
      • ‘After a replay of Wednesday's close and the titles, David tries the door but cannot get it open.’
      • ‘At his front door, a somewhat buxom blonde lady with very high heels and a very short skirt was trying the front door lock.’
      • ‘In case any of you ever find yourself in this situation, the smart thing to do is to try the door.’
      • ‘Our hero comes for his interview, in the middle of the day, and tries the left door, to no avail.’
      • ‘With the guards now completely stationary, he tries the door.’
      • ‘Once he turned the corner and was out of the guard's view, Matt tried one of the doors.’
      • ‘I tried a door that I thought was the emergency exit, but opened it to find a room full of people.’
      • ‘She tried the windows but they were also locked and when she threw things at them they didn't even crack.’
      • ‘He moved along using feather steps and tried every door until he reached the last one.’
    6. 1.6with object Make severe demands on (a person or a quality, typically patience)
      ‘Mary tried everyone's patience to the limit’
      • ‘I didn't really have to try my patience because I didn't make any big mistakes.’
      • ‘Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy my job, I might even venture to say I love it, but it sometimes tries my patience.’
      • ‘But if it tries the moviegoer's patience, the film never cedes its fascination.’
      • ‘Well, there is an answer to that-but I have tried the reader's patience long enough.’
      • ‘His tribulations at a sport at which he previously naturally excelled would have tried the patience of a saint.’
      • ‘But that's only the first of a number of instances in which he tries our patience.’
      • ‘As well as trying taxpayers' patience, the worsening gridlock is costing big money.’
      • ‘What he said went without argument and we knew better than to try his patience, and anyway, he kept his cane within easy reach.’
      • ‘As cricket has discovered the game has to be approachable and rain delays try the patience of everyone.’
      • ‘It is a game that rewards perseverance but tries your patience.’
      • ‘They know dawdling only tries the government's patience.’
      • ‘After a year of sustained eyebrow raising and boomerang pints, they now no longer try my patience or my vocal chords.’
      • ‘She tried my patience sometimes, but equally I probably didn't give enough of a chance.’
      • ‘Antoine is annoyed that Helene was late meeting him after work, and the heavy traffic tries his patience.’
      • ‘As it is, literally having to watch the grass grow starts to sorely try the patience.’
      tax, make severe demands on, strain, put a strain on, test, stretch, sap, drain, exhaust, wear out, tire out, weary
      View synonyms
  • 2with object Subject (someone) to trial.

    ‘he was arrested and tried for the murder’
    • ‘Sam was duly tried and convicted on the conspiracy count but the Appellant was not called as a witness at that trial.’
    • ‘One of its first orders is to set up special tribunals to try members of the former regime.’
    • ‘The court will try individuals accused of committing genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.’
    • ‘They purged Parliament in December, tried him, and had him executed in January 1649.’
    • ‘A few junior officers were tried by a military tribunal and given light sentences.’
    • ‘She was tried by one judge, rather than by a panel of three, as required by law.’
    • ‘He refused to serve on the court that tried Charles I but joined the Council of State in 1652.’
    • ‘He was tried before a judge sitting alone and convicted of three counts of murder and appealed.’
    • ‘With other conspirators he was tried and sentenced to death on a charge of treason in November 1553.’
    • ‘In due course, the great majority of war criminals were tried under a national jurisdiction.’
    • ‘The great majority of war criminals were tried in the territories where the crimes were committed.’
    • ‘The soldiers were subsequently tried by a regimental court martial and acquitted.’
    • ‘For that crime, she was tried, convicted, and sent back to slavery, thus restoring his property.’
    • ‘Within two days, both men were tried, convicted and sentenced to two years' jail.’
    • ‘After the war many camp officials were tried and punished, but others escaped.’
    • ‘Cromwell, who had wanted to spare the King, saw no way out but to try him for treason.’
    • ‘Her nine-day reign was followed by the Roman Catholic Queen Mary, who tried him for treason.’
    • ‘He was tried as a Nazi collaborator in 1946 but was acquitted and allowed to resume his career.’
    • ‘He was tried, after a fashion, and turned over to the Roman prefect, with the recommendation that he be executed.’
    1. 2.1 Investigate and decide (a case or issue) in a formal trial.
      ‘the case is to be tried by a jury in the Crown Court’
      • ‘This I have done and I have told him that I can see no reason why I should not continue to try the case.’
      • ‘This delay is within the ambit of what might be considered inherent in trying a case.’
      • ‘Attorneys who try cases at the courthouse said they had not seen him wearing it before.’
      • ‘The information is invalid and as such this Court has no jurisdiction to try the issue arising therefrom.’
      • ‘The actions were consolidated and the judge agreed to try preliminary issues which are the subject of this appeal.’
      adjudicate, consider, hear, pass judgement on, adjudge, examine
      View synonyms
  • 3with object Smooth (roughly planed wood) with a plane to give an accurately flat surface.

  • 4with object Extract (oil or fat) by heating.

    ‘some of the fat may be tried out and used’
    • ‘Then after they had cut it up, she tried out the fat and made a great quantity of oil from the bear.’
    • ‘Then he built a big fire and skinned the bears, and tried out the fat and poured it into a hollow in the ground.’
    • ‘He tried out the fat and made lard.’

noun

  • 1An effort to accomplish something; an attempt.

    ‘he got his membership card on his third try’
    • ‘Then my foot slipped off on only the second move of my third try.’
    • ‘Yet in my exhausting tries, I couldn't concentrate on making a conscious effort of it, not while this sheep dog was left standing.’
    • ‘To my astonishment, I make it up on my second attempt and by the third try I manage to stay up for a full three minutes.’
    • ‘On the second or third try, I got my glasses on a tiny wren half hidden in the grasses.’
    • ‘The chef handed her some paper, and she took around five tries to get a suitable signature.’
    • ‘Sometimes, first tries and the limits of low budgets make better films, never mind the special effects improvements.’
    • ‘It just took me a few weeks and just a few tries to accomplish all that.’
    • ‘Otherwise why would they have come back for a second and a third try?’
    • ‘The second and third tries in a different spot on his finger were also unsuccessful.’
    • ‘The blistering cold wore on the engine kept it from staring until the third try.’
    • ‘It took me a few tries and a lot of effort before I was able to stand upright.’
    • ‘What made the difference was sleeping after having a first few tries at the problems involved.’
    attempt, go, effort, endeavour, bid
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 An act of trying something new or different to see if it is suitable, effective, or pleasant.
      ‘she agreed that they should give the idea a try’
      • ‘Even if the idea seems strange, give it a try, as you have nothing to lose, but only to gain.’
      • ‘If you wonder how you will look with different eye colors, give color contacts a try.’
      • ‘If you're already prepared to give the essay a try, you can find a download page here.’
      • ‘It was getting excellent reviews there, so I decided to give it a try.’
      • ‘I didn't even know if asking her was a good idea or not, but I'll give it a try and see what happens.’
      • ‘However if you do give this form of fishing a try you may be pleasantly surprised.’
      • ‘He should have allowed for one more try of a different sort to see if it might be possible to get some movement.’
      • ‘After a few more tries, I finally gave up and turned to examine myself in the mirror.’
      • ‘If yes, definitely give it a try, but don't think only in terms of accomplishing anything.’
  • 2Rugby
    An act of touching the ball down behind the opposing goal line, scoring points and entitling the scoring side to a kick at goal.

    • ‘Players score tries by getting the ball over the opponents' touchline.’
    • ‘We can find out about games played, tries scored, goals kicked, brothers and fathers, referees, captains and so on.’
    • ‘In his career, he has played more than 260 professional matches, scoring 78 tries and kicking 100 goals and five drop goals.’
    • ‘While he was off the pitch the Giants scored two tries and a drop goal took their lead to 15-12.’
    • ‘The action was fast moving and skilful, enterprising and well judged and both sides produced two tries and two penalty kicks.’
    1. 2.1American Football An attempt to score an extra point after a touchdown.
      • ‘Seattle came up short on the road for the sixth time in seven tries this season.’
      • ‘If the Packers plan to win their 10th game in 11 tries against the Niners, they'll have to control the ball with the running game.’
      • ‘But he also had hit the left upright and right upright on a couple of other tries.’
      • ‘In the four games leading up to the season finale, Brown missed six of 11 tries plus three extra points.’
      • ‘Philadelphia converted one of every three third-down tries.’

Usage

Is there any difference between try to plus infinitive and try and plus infinitive in sentences such as we should try to (or try and) help them? In practice there is little discernible difference in meaning, although there is a difference in formality, with try to being regarded as more formal than try and. The construction try and is grammatically odd, however, in that it cannot be inflected for tense (e.g. sentences like she tried and fix it or they are trying and renew their visa are not acceptable, while their equivalents she tried to fix it or they are trying to renew their visa undoubtedly are). For this reason try and is best regarded as a fixed idiom used only in its infinitive and imperative form. See also and

Phrases

  • I (or he etc.) will try anything once

    • Used to indicate willingness to do or experience something new.

      ‘Rosie was willing to try anything once’
      • ‘I have a strict policy with food whilst travelling: I will try anything once.’
      • ‘I enjoy long walks on the beach, going to the park, jigsaw puzzles, reading a good book, swimming and I will try anything once.’
      • ‘I am not much of a prissy kind of girl, I will try anything once.’
      • ‘I like everything, and I will try anything once, but for the most part I go for a simple style with clean lines.’
      • ‘‘I will try anything once,’ she declared, and proved it in her eighties by flying on Concorde, taking a trip in a helicopter and ascending in a hot air balloon.’
      • ‘While I haven't been exposed to a lot of exotic places or foods, I am just not a very picky eater and I will try anything once.’
      • ‘He is a sport, he will try anything once.’
      • ‘I will always love Michael, he never stops excelling and has no boundaries with his music, he will try anything once.’
  • not for lack (or want) of trying

    • Used to express that considerable effort has been exerted even though success has not been attained.

      ‘the band never quite gets it together, but it's not for lack of trying’
      • ‘My wife and I have been together for 27 years and have no children, not for want of trying.’
      • ‘He may not be a household name, but that's not for lack of trying.’
      • ‘Those commitments that I haven't been able to keep, it's not for lack of trying.’
      • ‘The legendary shaft and cavern have not been found either, though not for lack of trying.’
      • ‘It may be a poor film, but not for lack of trying.’
      • ‘If he failed in this agenda, it was not for want of trying.’
      • ‘I still haven't won a round, but it's not for lack of trying.’
      • ‘This plan also failed, but not for lack of trying.’
      • ‘There are flicks I still haven't seen, not for want of trying.’
  • try something (on) for size

    • Assess whether something is suitable.

      ‘he was trying the role for size’
      • ‘If that one episode isn't enough to convince you that season five is better at everything than you will ever be at anything, try these quotes on for size.’
      • ‘So perhaps we shouldn't take it too seriously, but try these statements on for size.’
      • ‘Since we are speculating, nevertheless, we could try these questions on for size.’
      • ‘She tries ideas on for size and asks you if they fit.’
      • ‘Tesco, by contrast, tried the idea on for size, pioneering limited online shopping services in a single store before instigating a carefully planned rollout.’
      • ‘‘Sarah’, Sari repeated, trying it on for size it seemed.’
      • ‘Children try the world on for size through play.’
      • ‘Asked how he feels about one hack's overwrought description of him as ‘the feathercut prince of the blues ‘, he frowns, repeats the phrase slowly and inquisitively as if trying it on for size, then quickly changes the subject.’’
      • ‘I won't go on too much about money-saving tips now, but try these articles for size.’
      • ‘It was a different kind of acting, because the feelings were real, but it was like the two of them were trying the feelings on for size, like clothes to see if they fitted, and to see if they suited them.’
      test, try out, check out, put to the test, experiment with
      View synonyms
  • try for white

    • historical (under the apartheid system) attempt to pass oneself off as a white person by assimilating oneself into a white community.

      ‘he tried for white but was rejected and took on an African identity’
      • ‘She takes the audience on a sweeping journey from their childhood when they 'tried for white' by playing with white kids on the beach, to helping Patty confront the sacrifices she would have to make to be with the man she loved.’
      • ‘It started in the 1960s and spilt over into the 1970s, a time when white-skinned people ‘of mixed descent’ consciously tried for white to acquire a privileged position in South African society.’
      • ‘He recalled that when he went off to college he "tried for white," aping the manners and attitudes of the English and Afrikaners; rejected, he turned instead to the solace of black consciousness.’
  • try one's hand at

    • Attempt to do (something) for the first time, typically in order to find out if one is good at it.

      ‘a chance to try your hand at the ancient art of drystone walling’
      • ‘He now tried his hand at politics, seeking a better deal for sailors and soldiers.’
      • ‘The night will also provide dancing until midnight and a chance to try your hand at a game of roulette or blackjack.’
      • ‘The children tried their hand at more than one game.’
      • ‘She is looking forward to a long holiday in Canada visiting family and hopes to try her hand at something different during her retirement.’
      • ‘We intend to buy a rundown property: it's something we have always fancied trying our hand at - a blank canvas on which to make our mark.’
      • ‘You will have success in whatever you try your hand at.’
      • ‘Now he is trying his hand at more formal history.’
      • ‘Those going along have the chance to try their hand at various activities including abseiling, rock climbing and orienteering.’
      • ‘He even tried his hand at drawing in an attempt to capture the movement of the situations he found fascinating, but later realised that the camera does a better job, he says.’
      • ‘As well as the chance to try their hand at calligraphy, youngsters got up close to a variety of weapons such as a Celtic sword and 17th century rapier.’
  • try it on

    • 1informal Attempt to deceive or seduce someone.

      ‘you'd better not be trying it on with me’
      • ‘"He's trying it on with me but he's got a 7 months pregnant girlfriend!"’
      • ‘The line manager should not be 'trying it on' with workers - that is sexual harassment.’
      1. 1.1Deliberately test someone's patience to see how much one can get away with.
  • try me

    • Used to suggest that one may be willing to do something unexpected or unlikely.

      ‘‘You won't use a gun up here.’ ‘Try me.’’
      • ‘‘C'mon, try me,’ he murmurs, glancing quickly in Tom's direction.’
      • ‘I think my life has given me plenty of understanding, so try me.’
      • ‘‘Maybe you should try me, Bryan,’ Dani said angrily.’
      • ‘‘Then try me,’ said Jill as she took a quarter from her pocket.’
      • ‘If they do not take me as serious, they have to try me.’
      • ‘You can't tell me because I wouldn't understand it,’ he replied sarcastically, ‘Why don't you just try me.’’
      • ‘I laughed at this at first, and told my mate ‘Oh yeah, try me then.’’
      • ‘I simply tossed my long curls over my shoulder and practically dared them to try me.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • try something on

    • Put on an item of clothing to see if it fits or suits one.

      • ‘Some male customers felt uncomfortable when women were there as they were trying things on.’
      • ‘I'll try them on again first, but I'm really not keen on the skirt.’
      • ‘You've really got to try them on, and see what range of choice is available.’
      • ‘She said: ‘I have always loved hats and drag my friends round lots of shops so I can try them on.’’
      • ‘Like with any piece of clothing, you really need to try jeans on to see how they work.’
      • ‘I don't necessarily want to buy lots of stuff, I just want the shopping experience of going from shop to shop, trying things on and maybe making a couple of sound purchases.’
      • ‘His brother was trying the uniform on for the first time.’
      • ‘I'd prefer it if you could just pick up clothes and not have to try them on.’
      • ‘First I went through the racks of clothing and tried them on.’
      • ‘It was even more depressing trying the things on, since everything seemed designed to make you look as frumpy as possible.’

Origin

Middle English: from Old French trier ‘sift’, of unknown origin. Sense 1 of the noun dates from the early 17th century.

Pronunciation

try

/trʌɪ/

Main definitions of try in English

: try1TRY2

TRY2

  • Turkish lira (or lire).