There are 2 main definitions of try in English:

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try 1

Pronunciation: /trī/

verb (tries, trying, tried)

1 [no 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 none of them tried very hard [with object]: three times he tried the maneuver and three times he failed
More example sentences
  • I tried to be a sales executive, a sailor and even got married to try and fit into the role of a good wife.
  • 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.
  • She tried to make herself fall asleep so she could try and forget the situation she was in.
undertake, aim, take it upon oneself
informal have a go, give it one's best shot, bend over backwards, bust a gut, do one's damnedest, pull out all the stops, go all out, knock oneself out
formal essay
1.1 (try for) Attempt to achieve or attain: they decided to try for another baby
More example sentences
  • The first two attempts had failed and the third attempt was my last chance to try for a baby.
  • Sheila is determined to rebuild her family and the couple are already trying for another 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.
1.2 [with 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
More example sentences
  • There are many tried and tested methods that have been used in Europe before.
  • Parents will be able to try different sorts and if they like them can buy their own stock.
  • Please bear in mind that I have seen a lot of therapists who try different kinds of therapy.
test, trial, experiment with, pilot;
put through its paces;
assess, evaluate
1.3 (try out for) North American Compete or audition in order to join (a team) or be given (a position): she tried out for the team
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Natalie is trying out for the school team on January 22.
1.4 [with 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
More example sentences
  • We tried the apartment, but after that we didn't know where to call.
  • He tried the house, but we were not home.
1.5 [with object] Push or pull (a door or window) to determine whether it is locked: I tried the doors, but they were locked
More example sentences
  • 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 tried the door again and discovered that it wasn't locked, just a little stuck.
  • She tried the windows but they were also locked and when she threw things at them they didn't even crack.
1.6 [with object] Make severe demands on (a person or a quality, typically patience): Mary tried everyone’s patience to the limit
More example sentences
  • As cricket has discovered the game has to be approachable and rain delays try the patience of everyone.
  • She tried my patience sometimes, but equally I probably didn't give enough of a chance.
  • After a year of sustained eyebrow raising and boomerang pints, they now no longer try my patience or my vocal chords.
tax, strain, test, stretch, sap, drain, exhaust, wear out
2 [with object] (usually be tried) Subject (someone) to trial: he was arrested and tried for the murder
More example sentences
  • Sam was duly tried and convicted on the conspiracy count but the Appellant was not called as a witness at that trial.
  • Within two days, both men were tried, convicted and sentenced to two years' jail.
  • The soldiers were subsequently tried by a regimental court martial and acquitted.
2.1Investigate and decide (a case or issue) in a formal trial: such cases must be tried by a jury
More example sentences
  • The actions were consolidated and the judge agreed to try preliminary issues which are the subject of this appeal.
  • The information is invalid and as such this Court has no jurisdiction to try the issue arising therefrom.
  • This I have done and I have told him that I can see no reason why I should not continue to try the case.
adjudicate, consider, hear, adjudge, examine
3 [with object] chiefly British Smooth (roughly planed wood) with a plane to give an accurately flat surface.
4 [with object] Extract (oil or fat) by heating: some of the fat may be tried out and used
More example sentences
  • Then he built a big fire and skinned the bears, and tried out the fat and poured it into a hollow in the ground.
  • 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.

noun (plural tries)

1An effort to accomplish something; an attempt: Mitterrand was elected president on his third try
More example sentences
  • It just took me a few weeks and just a few tries to accomplish all that.
  • Then my foot slipped off on only the second move of my third try.
  • Otherwise why would they have come back for a second and a third try?
1.1An 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
More example sentences
  • Even if the idea seems strange, give it a try, as you have nothing to lose, but only to gain.
  • 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.
  • It was getting excellent reviews there, so I decided to give it a try.
2 Rugby An act of touching the ball down behind the opposing goal line, scoring points and entitling the scoring side to a goal kick.
Example sentences
  • We can find out about games played, tries scored, goals kicked, brothers and fathers, referees, captains and so on.
  • The action was fast moving and skilful, enterprising and well judged and both sides produced two tries and two penalty kicks.
  • While he was off the pitch the Giants scored two tries and a drop goal took their lead to 15-12.


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 (usage).



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

Used to indicate willingness to do or experience something new.
Example sentences
  • ‘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.
  • I like everything, and I will try anything once, but for the most part I go for a simple style with clean lines.
  • 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.

try something on for size

Assess whether something is suitable: he was trying on the role for size
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.

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
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Now he is trying his hand at more formal history.
have a go at, make an attempt at, have a shot at;
attempt, try, try out, give something a try
informal have a stab at, give something a whirl
formal essay

try it on

British informal Attempt to deceive or seduce someone: he was trying it on with my wife
More example sentences
  • "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.
4.1Deliberately test someone’s patience to see how much one can get away with.

try one's luck

see luck.

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.”
More example sentences
  • 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.

Phrasal verbs


try something on

Put on an item of clothing to see if it fits or suits one.
Example sentences
  • First I went through the racks of clothing and tried them on.
  • Like with any piece of clothing, you really need to try jeans on to see how they work.
  • Some male customers felt uncomfortable when women were there as they were trying things on.

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
More example sentences
  • Plant them in containers to begin with, so you can try them out in different positions.
  • Many successful traders will test strategies and set-ups on practice accounts before they try them out with real money.
  • Simply buy a pair of each, try them out on different days during different activities, and then choose the best one.


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

  • From Old French trier ‘to sift’, source also of trial (early 16th century). In rugby an act of touching the ball down behind the opposing goal line has been called a try since the 1840s. It got its name because a try gives the scoring side the right to try to kick a goal. The cliché try anything once, dates from the 1920s. The British conductor Sir Thomas Beecham (1879–1961) is generally credited with ‘You should try everything once except incest and morris dancing’, but the composer Sir Arnold Bax reported a similar comment in a 1943 autobiography.

Words that rhyme with try

ally, Altai, apply, assai, awry, ay, aye, Baha'i, belie, bi, Bligh, buy, by, bye, bye-bye, chi, Chiangmai, Ciskei, comply, cry, Cy, Dai, defy, deny, Di, die, do-or-die, dry, Dubai, dye, espy, eye, fie, fly, forbye, fry, Frye, goodbye (US goodby), guy, hereby, hi, hie, high, I, imply, I-spy, July, kai, lie, lye, Mackay, misapply, my, nearby, nigh, Nye, outfly, passer-by, phi, pi, pie, ply, pry, psi, Qinghai, rai, rely, rocaille, rye, scry, serai, shanghai, shy, sigh, sky, Skye, sky-high, sly, spin-dry, spry, spy, sty, Sukhotai, supply, Tai, Thai, thereby, thigh, thy, tie, Transkei, tumble-dry, underlie, Versailles, Vi, vie, whereby, why, wry, Wye, xi, Xingtai, Yantai

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: try

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There are 2 main definitions of try in English:

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Entry from British & World English dictionary


Turkish lira (or lire).

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: TRY

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