Definition of trough in English:

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Pronunciation: /trɒf/


1A long, narrow open container for animals to eat or drink out of: a water trough
More example sentences
  • Fence off all rivers and streams and provide piped mains water to drinking troughs.
  • This was made from a split log, which sometimes reached a vast size; although anthropological studies have shown that the larger ones may have also been used to lay-out bodies, or as water troughs for animals.
  • He gathered the reins and led the animal to the water trough.
manger, feeding container, feed box, feeder, fodder rack, crib
1.1A long, narrow open container used for a purpose such as growing plants.
Example sentences
  • Last Saturday I planted a small trough of mizuna seeds (to grow indoors), which are now healthy looking seedlings.
  • Congratulations to all the winners who walked away with some very handsome prizes which included garden seats, planting troughs and bird baths.
  • Yesterday I planted out two troughs of leaf beet seedlings, which I've covered in fleece and put somewhere where they will get some shade this afternoon since it's set to be another scorcher.
2A channel used to convey a liquid.
Example sentences
  • Among the small channels and troughs in the rocks, iceberg fragments were washing back and forth.
  • Channeling of water down the fin by troughs or rubber channels does not appear to improve thrust or economy.
  • Behind our neighborhood, originating in the native compounds, were endless sewer troughs - a spider web of two-foot wide canals that diverted water from rivers and streams.
channel, conduit, trench, ditch, gully, drain, culvert, cut, flume, gutter, furrow, groove, depression
2.1A long hollow in the earth’s surface: a vast glacial trough
More example sentences
  • Mature alpine landscapes exhibit many of the ‘classic’ features of glaciation, including troughs, hanging valleys, truncated spurs, and narrow arêtes rising to narrow rock peaks.
  • The diminution of marl seam thicknesses over positive structural elements and the development of phosphatic chalks in localized troughs are two such features.
  • Most of today's estuaries formed because the sea level has slowly risen during the last 18,000 years, drowning river valleys and filling in glacial troughs.
2.2A hollow between two wave crests in the sea.
Example sentences
  • Now, Hawaiian surf officially is measured by estimating the actual height between the crest and the trough of the breaking waves.
  • In most cases, the crests and troughs of the light waves do not align with each other, and destructive interference causes these waves to cancel each other out.
  • The wave's crests and troughs push and pull the thin metal or plastic back and forth.
3An elongated region of low barometric pressure.
Example sentences
  • The subtropical highs move from west to east across southern Australia in winter, and further south in summer, usually separated by low pressure troughs or cold fronts.
  • A trough is an elongated area of low atmospheric pressure that can occur either at the Earth's surface or at higher altitudes.
  • The procession of temperate cyclonic vortices continues unabated and their northerly troughs, the cold fronts, progress in tandem.
4A point of low activity or achievement: seasonal peaks and troughs in the demand for goods and services
More example sentences
  • This has created bigger peaks and troughs in port activity.
  • The with-profits version aims to smooth out stock market peaks and troughs by holding back some investment returns in good years to support payouts in bad years.
  • By not investing all the funds at once, the peaks and troughs of the stockmarket can be avoided.
4.1 Mathematics A region around the minimum on a curve of variation of a quantity.
Example sentences
  • The crest of the undulation on the inside of the wall coincides with the trough of the Gaussian vault.
  • This paper deals with the development of probability density functions applicable for peaks, troughs and peak-to-trough excursions of a non-Gaussian random process where the response of a non-linear system is represented in the form of Volterra's second-order functional series.
  • Settlement troughs both over single and twin tunnels (when symmetric) can often be described by a Gaussian curve.


[no object] informal
Eat greedily.
Example sentences
  • The culprit turned out to be my dog, caught red-handed troughing into the berries when she thought no-one was looking.
  • And I troughed the lot, felt absolutely stuffed, and had only put away 464 calories.
  • Bacon baguettes, sausage sandwiches, you name it, divers will be troughing it at some point during a diving day.


have (or get) one's snout (or nose) in the trough

informal, derogatory
Make ample use of opportunities afforded by one’s position in order to benefit oneself, especially financially: the expenses investigation confirmed to many that politicians have all got their noses in the trough


Old English trog, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch trog and German Trog, also to tree.

  • tray from Old English:

    Late Old English trīg is from the Germanic base of tree (Old English). The primary sense may have been ‘wooden container’. Trough (Old English) had a primary meaning of ‘wooden vessel’ and is related. The notion of a downturn on a graph or similar representation dates from the late 19th century in meteorology, the early 20th century in economics, and generally (peaks and troughs) from the 1930s.

Words that rhyme with trough

boff, cough, doff, far-off, off, quaff, roll-on roll-off, scoff, telling-off, toff

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: trough

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