What does trial and error mean?

Definitions for trial and error
tri·al and er·ror

Here are all the possible meanings and translations of the word trial and error.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. trial and error(adj)

    experimenting until a solution is found

  2. trial-and-error(adj)

    trying out various means or theories until error is satisfactorily reduced or eliminated

    "he argued that all learning is a trial-and-error process that resembles biological evolution"

  3. trial-and-error(adj)

    relating to solving problems by experience rather than theory

    "they adopted a trial-and-error procedure"


  1. trial and error(Noun)

    The process of finding a solution to a problem by trying many possible solutions and learning from mistakes until a way is found.


  1. Trial and error

    Trial and error is a fundamental method of solving problems. It is characterised by repeated, varied attempts which are continued until success, or until the agent stops trying. It is an unsystematic method which does not employ insight, theory or organised methodology. According to W.H. Thorpe, the term was devised by C. Lloyd Morgan after trying out similar phrases "trial and failure" and "trial and practice". Under Morgan's canon, animal behaviour should be explained in the simplest possible way. Where behaviour seems to imply higher mental processes, it might be explained by trial and error learning. An example is the skilful way in which his terrier Tony opened the garden gate, easily misunderstood as an insightful act by someone seeing the final behaviour. Lloyd Morgan, however, had watched and recorded the series of approximations by which the dog had gradually learned the response, and could demonstrate that no insight was required to explain it. Edward Thorndike showed how to manage a trial and error experiment in the laboratory. In his famous experiment, a cat was placed in a series of puzzle boxes in order to study the law of effect in learning. He plotted learning curves which recorded the timing for each trial. Thorndike's key observation was that learning was promoted by positive results, which was later refined and extended by B.F. Skinner's operant conditioning.


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of trial and error in Chaldean Numerology is: 3

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of trial and error in Pythagorean Numerology is: 9

Sample Sentences & Example Usage

  1. Woody Haldrugold:

    If you apply the "Trial and Error" method to most of your work, the gorillas can do it better. The human mind must be more than that.

  2. Georg Riedel:

    What we do is – by trial and error, with the help of the winemaker – fine-tune the shape to the expression he likes, we feel like architects. An architect has his own vision, but at the end of the day it’s the customer who tells him how his house or his apartment will be built.

  3. Jeb Bush:

    I've learned about leadership through trial and error. I've got tire marks on my forehead to prove it, you learn these things if you're all in. You learn these things by experience. You don't talk about things on the sidelines. We need leadership in Washington, D.C., high-energy leadership.

  4. Edward C. Banfield:

    Every political system is an accumulation of habits, customs, prejudices, and principles that have survived a long process of trial and error and of ceaseless response to changing circumstances. If the system works well on the whole, it is a lucky accident -- the luckiest, indeed, that can befall a society.

  5. T.R. Threston:

    If you believe in yourself (even if no one else does) then keep trying until you succeed. Success isn’t for a few “lucky” people, it comes from trial and error, and, failure is a huge part of becoming successful provided you learn from your past mistakes, and, make a conscious effort to change what doesn’t work.

Images & Illustrations of trial and error

  1. trial and errortrial and errortrial and error

Translations for trial and error

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"trial and error." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2018. Web. 17 Oct. 2018. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/trial+and+error>.

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