Definition of try in US English:

try

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 maneuver and three times he failed’
    ‘none of them tried very hard’
    • ‘If that is the case, you really should make an effort to try and catch him while you can.’
    • ‘This week I tried to make an effort shake the lethargy which has plagued me recently.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I tried to be a sales executive, a sailor and even got married to try and fit into the role of a good wife.’
    • ‘I wish that there were attempts to try and circulate the information to young women that they do have a choice.’
    • ‘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'll try and play the way we have tried to play the last two Test matches.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She tried to make herself fall asleep so she could try and forget the situation she was in.’
    • ‘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 were disrupted by efforts to try and merge our information systems and find new headquarters.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The white nuns who came here made a big effort to try and teach your mother.’
    • ‘Either way, I am going to start making a dedicated effort to try and stop using those words myself.’
    • ‘I have spent a lot of time, effort and money to try and put together the next project.’
    • ‘With effort, he tried to sit up and the hot, white pain that coursed through him was more than he could bear.’
    • ‘I didn't try and listen or believe your side of the story even when you tried to tell me.’
    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’
      • ‘Now we have tried and tested it with bluechips and there are definite signs of an upturn.’
      • ‘A few approaches to this problem have been tried in different countries in the last two decades.’
      • ‘Our combinations are tried and tested in many cases, which does help.’
      • ‘His methods, he admits, are not new but have been tried and tested in Canada.’
      • ‘They are the result of centuries of experience and wisdom, tried and tested.’
      • ‘The oil has been tried and tested throughout the season and offers extremely good durability.’
      • ‘The important point is that the stallion will have been tried and tested in the toughest race of all.’
      • ‘To scientists a theory is an idea that has been tried and tested by experiments and has passed every test.’
      • ‘He said there was no reason the new system could not work, that it was tried and tested all over Europe.’
      • ‘Please bear in mind that I have seen a lot of therapists who try different kinds of therapy.’
      • ‘Several top football countries use this system so it is tried and tested.’
      • ‘They are all productions that are tried and tested and that are not usually that complex.’
      • ‘There are many tried and tested methods that have been used in Europe before.’
      • ‘Granted it wasn't tried and tested, but, it did have a basis on common sense.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The genre has certain formulaic elements, tried and tested in their saleability.’
      • ‘Popular-yet-dormant brands, and tried and tested formulae are revived and revisited all the time.’
      • ‘Sadly, the idea of the game has been tried and tested so many times it seems old hat now.’
      • ‘Parents will be able to try different sorts and if they like them can buy their own stock.’
      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 devastated parents, who already had a daughter, risked trying for another child and had a second healthy baby girl.’
      • ‘The couple had been trying for a baby for a while but Judith had trouble conceiving because she suffers from polycystic ovaries.’
      • ‘Today, you'll be pleased to hear that Amelia has got married to a lovely chap and they're now trying for a baby.’
      • ‘The reason for this is because they had been trying for a baby for the last few years.’
      • ‘The first two attempts had failed and the third attempt was my last chance to try for a baby.’
      • ‘He has then agreed that we can then start trying for a family.’
      • ‘Regular exercise is also important for men and women to improve their health before trying for a baby.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Despite everything, a year later they decided to try for a baby again.’
      • ‘Sheila is determined to rebuild her family and the couple are already trying for another baby.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘You may feel you're ready to start trying for a baby immediately.’
      • ‘She and her husband have been trying for a baby for years and she's finally pregnant.’
      • ‘To be classified as infertile, the couple need to be actively trying for a baby for one year.’
      • ‘But he says he is trying for roles that have him playing more than just the perfect romantic.’
      • ‘They are reportedly trying for a reunion with the help of a marriage counsellor.’
      • ‘One in seven UK couples trying for a baby experience delays in conceiving.’
      • ‘The couple decided to try for a baby without seeking specialist advice in case they were warned off due to the risks involved.’
      • ‘His devoted parents have been trying for several years to have a baby whose donated stem cells might restore him to health.’
      • ‘We loved each other, we were trying for a baby and I knew it was what he wanted.’
    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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘By the way, you said you play tennis - are you interested in trying out for the team?’
      • ‘Then he went back to his conversation about trying out for the football team.’
      • ‘Natalie is trying out for the school team on January 22.’
      • ‘If there was another girl trying out for the team, Alex was going to make sure she was good.’
      • ‘She was still trying to think up a way to get out of trying out for the dance team.’
      • ‘Are you going to be trying out for the cheerleading team?’
      • ‘She must be as excited as me before freshman year when I was trying out for the varsity team for the first time.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Tanya tries out for the soccer team but doesn't make the cut.’
      • ‘Mark and Benny were trying out for the hockey team.’
      • ‘State rules even barred them from trying out for boys' teams.’
      • ‘Go for honor roll, or try out for the softball 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.’
      • ‘‘Hey, I heard he's trying out for the football team,’ Mackenzie suddenly remembered.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Of course, they wanted to know why she wasn't trying out for the basketball team the next year.’
    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’
      • ‘He tried the door again and discovered that it wasn't locked, just a little stuck.’
      • ‘At his front door, a somewhat buxom blonde lady with very high heels and a very short skirt was trying the front door lock.’
      • ‘He knocks, then disappears around the side of the house and tries the back door.’
      • ‘After a replay of Wednesday's close and the titles, David tries the door but cannot get it open.’
      • ‘Getting no answer at the back door, he tried it and found it opened to his push.’
      • ‘Bernard paid for his tea and took the lift to the 2nd floor and tried the door of the banquet hall, which opened.’
      • ‘In case any of you ever find yourself in this situation, the smart thing to do is to try the door.’
      • ‘After looking through the letter box the youth tried the front door and went inside the house.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The Post Office was closed after the incident and this afternoon local people were trying the front door.’
      • ‘Once he turned the corner and was out of the guard's view, Matt tried one of the doors.’
      • ‘Then, stealthily, the person darted over to another door and tried the handle.’
      • ‘Why they didn't try the front door was a mystery, but not a mystery she wanted to solve.’
      • ‘With the guards now completely stationary, he tries the door.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I stopped a foot away from the door at the end of the hallway and tried the door handle.’
      • ‘Kate tried the door when she finally got there but it was locked and her key didn't work.’
      • ‘Our hero comes for his interview, in the middle of the day, and tries the left door, to no avail.’
    6. 1.6with object Make severe demands on (a person or a quality, typically patience)
      ‘Mary tried everyone's patience to the limit’
      • ‘They know dawdling only tries the government's patience.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But if it tries the moviegoer's patience, the film never cedes its fascination.’
      • ‘I didn't really have to try my patience because I didn't make any big mistakes.’
      • ‘Antoine is annoyed that Helene was late meeting him after work, and the heavy traffic tries his 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It is a game that rewards perseverance but tries your patience.’
      • ‘What he said went without argument and we knew better than to try his patience, and anyway, he kept his cane within easy reach.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      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’
    • ‘The great majority of war criminals were tried in the territories where the crimes were committed.’
    • ‘With other conspirators he was tried and sentenced to death on a charge of treason in November 1553.’
    • ‘For that crime, she was tried, convicted, and sent back to slavery, thus restoring his property.’
    • ‘She was tried by one judge, rather than by a panel of three, as required by law.’
    • ‘In due course, the great majority of war criminals were tried under a national jurisdiction.’
    • ‘They purged Parliament in December, tried him, and had him executed in January 1649.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Within two days, both men were tried, convicted and sentenced to two years' jail.’
    • ‘Her nine-day reign was followed by the Roman Catholic Queen Mary, who tried 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.’
    • ‘A few junior officers were tried by a military tribunal and given light sentences.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He was tried before a judge sitting alone and convicted of three counts of murder and appealed.’
    • ‘He refused to serve on the court that tried Charles I but joined the Council of State in 1652.’
    • ‘The soldiers were subsequently tried by a regimental court martial and acquitted.’
    • ‘He was tried, after a fashion, and turned over to the Roman prefect, with the recommendation that he be executed.’
    • ‘One of its first orders is to set up special tribunals to try members of the former regime.’
    1. 2.1 Investigate and decide (a case or issue) in a formal trial.
      ‘such cases must be tried by a jury’
      • ‘This delay is within the ambit of what might be considered inherent in trying a case.’
      • ‘The actions were consolidated and the judge agreed to try preliminary issues which are the subject of this appeal.’
      • ‘This I have done and I have told him that I can see no reason why I should not continue to try the case.’
      • ‘The information is invalid and as such this Court has no jurisdiction to try the issue arising therefrom.’
      • ‘Attorneys who try cases at the courthouse said they had not seen him wearing it before.’
      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.’
    • ‘He tried out the fat and made lard.’
    • ‘Then he built a big fire and skinned the bears, and tried out the fat and poured it into a hollow in the ground.’

noun

  • 1An effort to accomplish something; an attempt.

    ‘Mitterrand was elected president on his third try’
    • ‘It took me a few tries and a lot of effort before I was able to stand upright.’
    • ‘Sometimes, first tries and the limits of low budgets make better films, never mind the special effects improvements.’
    • ‘Otherwise why would they have come back for a second and a third try?’
    • ‘Then my foot slipped off on only the second move of my third try.’
    • ‘What made the difference was sleeping after having a first few tries at the problems involved.’
    • ‘The chef handed her some paper, and she took around five tries to get a suitable signature.’
    • ‘The blistering cold wore on the engine kept it from staring until the third try.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘On the second or third try, I got my glasses on a tiny wren half hidden in the grasses.’
    • ‘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 second and third tries in a different spot on his finger were also unsuccessful.’
    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’
      • ‘It was getting excellent reviews there, so I decided to give it a try.’
      • ‘If yes, definitely give it a try, but don't think only in terms of accomplishing anything.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘However if you do give this form of fishing a try you may be pleasantly surprised.’
      • ‘If you're already prepared to give the essay a try, you can find a download page here.’
      • ‘He should have allowed for one more try of a different sort to see if it might be possible to get some movement.’
      • ‘If you wonder how you will look with different eye colors, give color contacts 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.

    • ‘The action was fast moving and skilful, enterprising and well judged and both sides produced two tries and two penalty kicks.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘While he was off the pitch the Giants scored two tries and a drop goal took their lead to 15-12.’
    • ‘We can find out about games played, tries scored, goals kicked, brothers and fathers, referees, captains and so on.’

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 have a strict policy with food whilst travelling: I 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 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.’
      • ‘He is a sport, he will try anything once.’
      • ‘I am not much of a prissy kind of girl, I will try anything once.’
  • try something on for size

    • Assess whether something is suitable.

      ‘he was trying on 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.’
      • ‘Tesco, by contrast, tried the idea on for size, pioneering limited online shopping services in a single store before instigating a carefully planned rollout.’
      • ‘She tries ideas on for size and asks you if they fit.’
      • ‘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.’’
      • ‘So perhaps we shouldn't take it too seriously, but try these statements on for size.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘‘Sarah’, Sari repeated, trying it on for size it seemed.’
      • ‘Since we are speculating, nevertheless, we could try these questions on 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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The children tried their hand at more than one game.’
      • ‘Now he is trying his hand at more formal history.’
      • ‘The night will also provide dancing until midnight and a chance to try your hand at a game of roulette or blackjack.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He now tried his hand at politics, seeking a better deal for sailors and soldiers.’
      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’
      • ‘"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.”’
      • ‘You can't tell me because I wouldn't understand it,’ he replied sarcastically, ‘Why don't you just try me.’’
      • ‘‘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.’
      • ‘I laughed at this at first, and told my mate ‘Oh yeah, try me then.’’
      • ‘‘Maybe you should try me, Bryan,’ Dani said angrily.’
      • ‘‘C'mon, try me,’ he murmurs, glancing quickly in Tom's direction.’
      • ‘I simply tossed my long curls over my shoulder and practically dared them to try me.’
      • ‘I think my life has given me plenty of understanding, so 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.’
      • ‘His brother was trying the uniform on for the first time.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Like with any piece of clothing, you really need to try jeans on to see how they work.’
      • ‘I'll try them on again first, but I'm really not keen on the skirt.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘She said: ‘I have always loved hats and drag my friends round lots of shops so I can try them on.’’
      • ‘You've really got to try them on, and see what range of choice is available.’
  • 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’
      • ‘He said: ‘I have so many ideas at the moment, so I am just trying them out.’’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Necessary alterations were made on the garments after trying them out on children.’
      • ‘Simply buy a pair of each, try them out on different days during different activities, and then choose the best one.’
      • ‘Plant them in containers to begin with, so you can try them out in different positions.’
      • ‘Come up with your own ideas, try them out - and share them with other activists.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I highly recommend trying them out if you haven't already.’
      • ‘So she began experimenting on making home-made beauty products and trying them out on girlfriends.’
      • ‘Many successful traders will test strategies and set-ups on practice accounts before they try them out with real money.’

Origin

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

Pronunciation

try

/trī//traɪ/