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tri·al (trīəl, trīl)
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n.
1. Law
a. A proceeding in which opposing parties in a dispute present evidence and make arguments on the application of the law before a judge or jury: The case is expected to go to trial.
b. An instance of such a proceeding: the trial of Socrates.
2.
a. The act or process of testing, trying, or putting to the proof: a trial of one's faith.
b. An instance of such testing, especially as part of a series of tests or experiments: a clinical trial of a drug.
3. An effort or attempt: succeeded on the third trial.
4. A state of pain or anguish that tests patience, endurance, or belief: "the fiery trial through which we pass" (Abraham Lincoln).
5. A trying, troublesome, or annoying person or thing: The child was a trial to his parents.
6. A preliminary competition or test to determine qualifications, as in a sport.
adj.
1. Of, relating to, or used in a trial.
2. Attempted or advanced on a provisional or experimental basis: a married couple on a trial separation.
3. Made or done in the course of a trial or test.
Idioms:
on trial
In the process of being tried, as in a court of law.
trial by fire
A test of one's abilities, especially the ability to perform well under pressure.

[Middle English triall, a testing, from Anglo-Norman trial, from trier, to pick out, try, from Old French trier, to pick out, separate out; see TRY.]

Synonyms: trial, affliction, crucible, ordeal, tribulation
These nouns denote distress or suffering that severely tests resiliency and character: no consolation in their hour of trial; the affliction of a bereaved family; the crucible of revolution; the ordeal of being an innocent murder suspect; a time of relentless tribulation. See Also Synonyms at burden.

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

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