use-icon

HOW TO USE THE DICTIONARY

Learn what the dictionary tells you about words.

Get Started Now!

Some compound words (like bus rapid transit, dog whistle, or identity theft) don’t appear on the drop-down list when you enter them into the search window. If a compound term doesn’t appear in the drop-down list, try entering the term into the search window and then hit the search button (instead of the “enter” key). Alternatively, begin searches for compound terms with a quotation mark.

use-icon

THE USAGE PANEL

The Usage Panel is a group of nearly 200 prominent scholars, creative writers, journalists, diplomats, and others in occupations requiring mastery of language. The Panelists are surveyed annually to gauge the acceptability of particular usages and grammatical constructions.

The Panelists

puzzle-icon

NEED HELP SOLVING A CROSSWORD PUZZLE?

Go to our Crossword Puzzle Solver and type in the letters that you know, and the Solver will produce a list of possible solutions.

open-icon

INTERESTED IN DICTIONARIES?

Check out the Dictionary Society of North America at http://www.dictionarysociety.com

open-icon

AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY APP

The new American Heritage Dictionary app is now available for iOS and Android.

scroll-icon

INDO-EUROPEAN & SEMITIC ROOTS APPENDICES

Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

Indo-European Roots

Semitic Roots

The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

open-icon

OPEN DICTIONARY PROJECT

Share your ideas for new words and new meanings of old words!

Start Sharing Now!

100-words-icon

See word lists from the best-selling 100 Words Series!

Find out more!

try (trī)
Share:
v. tried (trīd), try·ing, tries (trīz)
v.tr.
1. To make an effort to do or accomplish (something); attempt: tried to ski.
2.
a. To taste, sample, or otherwise test in order to determine strength, effect, worth, or desirability: Try this casserole.
b. To make an effort to open (a closed door or window).
3. Law
a. To conduct the trial of (a legal claim): to try a negligence case.
b. To put (an accused person) on trial.
4. To subject to great strain or hardship; tax: The last steep ascent tried my every muscle.
5. To melt (lard, for example) to separate out impurities; render.
v.intr.
To make an effort; strive: I know it's not easy, but keep trying!
n. pl. tries (trīz)
1. An attempt; an effort.
2. Sports In Rugby, an act of advancing the ball past the opponent's goal line and grounding it there for a score of three points.
Phrasal Verbs:
try on
1. To don (a garment) to test its fit.
2. To test or use experimentally.
try out
1. To undergo a competitive qualifying test, as for a job or athletic team.
2. To test or use experimentally.
Idioms:
try (one's) hand
To attempt to do something for the first time: I tried my hand at skiing.
try (one's) fortune
To make an effort or take a risk to be successful, especially as a newcomer.

[Middle English trien, to pick out, separate (right from wrong), test, attempt, from Old French trier, to pick out; akin to Provençal and Catalan triar, to pick out, of unknown origin.]

Usage Note: The phrase try and is commonly used as a substitute for try to, as in Could you try and make less noise? A number of grammarians have labeled the construction incorrect. To be sure, the usage is associated with informal style and strikes an inappropriately conversational note in formal writing. In our 2005 survey, just 55 percent of the Usage Panel accepted the construction in the sentence Why don't you try and see if you can work the problem out for yourselves?

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

This website is best viewed in Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, or Safari. Some characters in pronunciations and etymologies cannot be displayed properly in Internet Explorer.