Definition of try in US English:

try

verbPlural tries, tried, trying

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

    ‘he was arrested and tried for the murder’
    • ‘He was tried, after a fashion, and turned over to the Roman prefect, with the recommendation that he be executed.’
    • ‘Within two days, both men were tried, convicted and sentenced to two years' jail.’
    • ‘In due course, the great majority of war criminals were tried under a national jurisdiction.’
    • ‘After the war many camp officials were tried and punished, but others escaped.’
    • ‘She was tried by one judge, rather than by a panel of three, as required by law.’
    • ‘With other conspirators he was tried and sentenced to death on a charge of treason in November 1553.’
    • ‘The soldiers were subsequently tried by a regimental court martial and acquitted.’
    • ‘He was tried before a judge sitting alone and convicted of three counts of murder and appealed.’
    • ‘Cromwell, who had wanted to spare the King, saw no way out but to try him for treason.’
    • ‘Sam was duly tried and convicted on the conspiracy count but the Appellant was not called as a witness at that trial.’
    • ‘The great majority of war criminals were tried in the territories where the crimes were committed.’
    • ‘He refused to serve on the court that tried Charles I but joined the Council of State in 1652.’
    • ‘One of its first orders is to set up special tribunals to try members of the former regime.’
    • ‘They purged Parliament in December, tried him, and had him executed in January 1649.’
    • ‘Her nine-day reign was followed by the Roman Catholic Queen Mary, who tried him for treason.’
    • ‘For that crime, she was tried, convicted, and sent back to slavery, thus restoring his property.’
    • ‘The court will try individuals accused of committing genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.’
    • ‘He was tried as a Nazi collaborator in 1946 but was acquitted and allowed to resume his career.’
    • ‘A few junior officers were tried by a military tribunal and given light sentences.’
    1. 2.1 Investigate and decide (a case or issue) in a formal trial.
      ‘such cases must be tried by a jury’
      • ‘Attorneys who try cases at the courthouse said they had not seen him wearing it before.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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 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.’
    • ‘Then after they had cut it up, she tried out the fat and made a great quantity of oil from the bear.’

nounPlural tries

  • 1An effort to accomplish something; an attempt.

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

    • ‘We can find out about games played, tries scored, goals kicked, brothers and fathers, referees, captains and so on.’
    • ‘While he was off the pitch the Giants scored two tries and a drop goal took their lead to 15-12.’
    • ‘In his career, he has played more than 260 professional matches, scoring 78 tries and kicking 100 goals and five drop goals.’
    • ‘Players score tries by getting the ball over the opponents' touchline.’
    • ‘The action was fast moving and skilful, enterprising and well judged and both sides produced two tries and two penalty kicks.’

Usage

In practice, there is little discernible difference in meaning between try to plus infinitive (we should try to help them) and try and plus infinitive (we should try and help them), but there is a difference in formality, with try to being regarded as more formal than try and. Beyond the issue of formality, the construction try and is grammatically odd, in that it cannot be inflected for tense—that is, 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 obviously 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.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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 like everything, and I will try anything once, but for the most part I go for a simple style with clean lines.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I have a strict policy with food whilst travelling: I will try anything once.’
      • ‘I am not much of a prissy kind of girl, I will try anything once.’
      • ‘‘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.’
  • try something on for size

    • Assess whether something is suitable.

      ‘he was trying on the role for size’
      • ‘She tries ideas on for size and asks you if they fit.’
      • ‘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.’’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Children try the world on for size through play.’
      • ‘So perhaps we shouldn't take it too seriously, but try these statements on for size.’
      • ‘Tesco, by contrast, tried the idea on for size, pioneering limited online shopping services in a single store before instigating a carefully planned rollout.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Since we are speculating, nevertheless, we could try these questions on for size.’
      • ‘‘Sarah’, Sari repeated, trying it on for size it seemed.’
      • ‘I won't go on too much about money-saving tips now, but try these articles for size.’
      test, try out, check out, put to the test, experiment with
      View synonyms
  • 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 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.’
      • ‘The night will also provide dancing until midnight and a chance to try your hand at a game of roulette or blackjack.’
      • ‘She is looking forward to a long holiday in Canada visiting family and hopes to try her hand at something different during her retirement.’
      • ‘You will have success in whatever you try your hand at.’
      • ‘Those going along have the chance to try their hand at various activities including abseiling, rock climbing and orienteering.’
      • ‘The children tried their hand at more than one game.’
      • ‘Now he is trying his hand at more formal history.’
      • ‘He now tried his hand at politics, seeking a better deal for sailors and soldiers.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      make an attempt at, have a shot at
      View synonyms
  • try it on

    • 1informal Attempt to deceive or seduce someone.

      ‘you'd better not be trying it on with me’
      • ‘The line manager should not be 'trying it on' with workers - that is sexual harassment.’
      • ‘"He's trying it on with me but he's got a 7 months pregnant girlfriend!"’
      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.”’
      • ‘‘Maybe you should try me, Bryan,’ Dani said angrily.’
      • ‘I simply tossed my long curls over my shoulder and practically dared them to try me.’
      • ‘I laughed at this at first, and told my mate ‘Oh yeah, try me then.’’
      • ‘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 think my life has given me plenty of understanding, so try me.’
      • ‘‘C'mon, try me,’ he murmurs, glancing quickly in Tom's direction.’
      • ‘‘Then try me,’ said Jill as she took a quarter from her pocket.’

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.’
      • ‘First I went through the racks of clothing and tried them on.’
      • ‘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.’’
      • ‘I'd prefer it if you could just pick up clothes and not have to try them on.’
      • ‘His brother was trying the uniform on for the first time.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It was even more depressing trying the things on, since everything seemed designed to make you look as frumpy as possible.’
      • ‘I'll try them on again first, but I'm really not keen on the skirt.’
  • try someone/something out

    • Test someone or something new or different to assess their suitability or effectiveness.

      ‘I try out new recipes on my daughter’
      • ‘Many successful traders will test strategies and set-ups on practice accounts before they try them out with real money.’
      • ‘Don't be shy about bringing a swatch of fabric to the paint store or even buying small amounts of paint and trying them out before deciding what works.’
      • ‘Plant them in containers to begin with, so you can try them out in different positions.’
      • ‘So she began experimenting on making home-made beauty products and trying them out on girlfriends.’
      • ‘Come up with your own ideas, try them out - and share them with other activists.’
      • ‘I highly recommend trying them out if you haven't already.’
      • ‘Simply buy a pair of each, try them out on different days during different activities, and then choose the best one.’
      • ‘Necessary alterations were made on the garments after trying them out on children.’
      • ‘And even when the recipes left me virtually salivating at the prospect of trying them out, I was discouraged by the fact that they required ingredients unlikely to be found in the pantries of anyone but the most dedicated foodie.’
      • ‘He said: ‘I have so many ideas at the moment, so I am just trying them out.’’

Origin

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

Pronunciation

try

/traɪ//trī/