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1. Being tried in a court of law. The woman is on trial for stealing from stores all over town.
2. As a test to examine someone's or something's worth or suitability. They let us take the steam cleaner home on trial with the promise of a full refund if we didn't like it. They gave me the job, but only on trial for the first week until I prove I'm up to snuff.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
1. [of someone] in a legal case before a judge. The criminal was on trial for over three months. lam not on trial. Don't treat me like that!
2. being tested; being examined or experimented with. The new strain of wheat is on trial in Kansas at the present time. The teaching method is on trial in the school system.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
1. In the process of being tried, especially in a court of law. For example, He would be put on trial for the murder of his wife. [Early 1700s]
2. As a test of something, on probation, as in They said we could take the vacuum cleaner on trial and return it if it was too noisy. [Early 1700s]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
In the process of being tried, as in a court of law.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.