When you run a series of tests on something, it's called a trial. If you invent a computer game and want to run it through a trial before releasing it, you might hire a bunch of teenagers to play it.

A trial is also a court hearing to legally determine the result of a particular case. If your cousin is arrested for stealing her neighbor's dog, she may be put on trial. This term can also be used more generically, especially to talk about something being tried in the court of public opinion. The fate of music education is on trial in many school districts facing budget cuts.

Definitions of trial

n the act of testing something

“in the experimental trials the amount of carbon was measured separately”
“he called each flip of the coin a new trial
run, test
show 19 types...
hide 19 types...
a quantitative or qualitative test of a substance (especially an ore or a drug) to determine its components; frequently used to test for the presence or concentration of infectious agents or antibodies etc.
clinical test, clinical trial
a rigorously controlled test of a new drug or a new invasive medical device on human subjects; in the United States it is conducted under the direction of the FDA before being made available for general clinical use
double blind
a test procedure in which the identity of those receiving the intervention is concealed from both the administrators and the subjects until after the test is completed; designed to reduce or eliminate bias in the results
preclinical phase, preclinical test, preclinical trial
a laboratory test of a new drug or a new invasive medical device on animal subjects; conducted to gather evidence justifying a clinical trial
audition, tryout
a test of the suitability of a performer
field trial
a test of young hunting dogs to determine their skill in pointing and retrieving
fitting, try-on, trying on
putting clothes on to see whether they fit
MOT, MOT test, Ministry of Transportation test
a compulsory annual test of older motor vehicles for safety and exhaust fumes
pilot program, pilot project
activity planned as a test or trial
Snellen test
a test of visual acuity using a Snellen chart
ELISA, enzyme-linked-immunosorbent serologic assay
an assay that relies on an enzymatic conversion reaction and is used to detect the presence of specific substances (such as enzymes or viruses or antibodies or bacteria)
an assay that shows specific antigens in tissues by the use of markers that are either fluorescent dyes or enzymes (such as horseradish peroxidase)
phase I, phase I clinical trial
a clinical trial on a few persons to determine the safety of a new drug or invasive medical device; for drugs, dosage or toxicity limits should be obtained
phase II, phase II clinical trial
a clinical trial on more persons than in phase I; intended to evaluate the efficacy of a treatment for the condition it is intended to treat; possible side effects are monitored
phase III, phase III clinical trial
a large clinical trial of a treatment or drug that in phase I and phase II has been shown to be efficacious with tolerable side effects; after successful conclusion of these clinical trials it will receive formal approval from the FDA
phase IV, phase IV clinical trial
sometimes the FDA approves a drug for general use but requires the manufacturer to continue to monitor its effects; during this phase the drug may be tried on slightly different patient populations than those studied in earlier trials
screen test
a filmed audition of an actor or actress
diagnostic assay, diagnostic test
an assay conducted for diagnostic purposes
bio-assay, bioassay
appraisal of the biological activity of a substance by testing its effect on an organism and comparing the result with some agreed standard
Type of:
attempt, effort, endeavor, endeavour, try
earnest and conscientious activity intended to do or accomplish something

n trying something to find out about it

“a sample for ten days free trial
“a trial of progesterone failed to relieve the pain”
test, trial run, tryout
show 6 types...
hide 6 types...
field test, field trial
a test of the performance of some new product under the conditions in which it will be used
alpha test
(computer science) a first test of an experimental product (such as computer software) carried out by the developer
beta test
(computer science) a second test of an experimental product (such as computer software) carried out by an outside organization
road test
a test to insure that a vehicle is roadworthy
trial balloon
a test of public opinion
test drive
test of the roadworthiness of a vehicle one is considering buying
Type of:
experiment, experimentation
the testing of an idea

n the act of undergoing testing

“candidates must compete in a trial of skill”
Type of:
attempt, effort, endeavor, endeavour, try
earnest and conscientious activity intended to do or accomplish something

n (law) the determination of a person's innocence or guilt by due process of law

“he had a fair trial and the jury found him guilty”
“most of these complaints are settled before they go to trial
show 6 types...
hide 6 types...
a trial that is conducted by a military court
ordeal, trial by ordeal
a primitive method of determining a person's guilt or innocence by subjecting the accused person to dangerous or painful tests believed to be under divine control; escape was usually taken as a sign of innocence
Scopes trial
a highly publicized trial in 1925 when John Thomas Scopes violated a Tennessee state law by teaching evolution in high school; Scopes was prosecuted by William Jennings Bryan and defended by Clarence Darrow; Scopes was convicted but the verdict was later reversed
show trial
a trial held for show; the guilt of the accused person has been decided in advance
a trial that is invalid or inconclusive
a new trial in which issues already litigated and to which the court has already rendered a verdict or decision are reexamined by the same court; occurs when the initial trial is found to have been improper or unfair due to procedural errors
Type of:
legal proceeding, proceeding, proceedings
(law) the institution of a sequence of steps by which legal judgments are invoked

n (sports) a preliminary competition to determine qualifications

“the trials for the semifinals began yesterday”
Type of:
competition, contest
an occasion on which a winner is selected from among two or more contestants

n an annoying or frustrating or catastrophic event

“his mother-in-law's visits were a great trial for him”
tribulation, visitation
a severe trial
Type of:
a cause of great suffering and distress

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.