try on

try on

  1. (transitive) To test the look or fit of (a garment) by wearing it.
    • circa 1601 Gervase Markham, The Dumb Knight, London: John Bache, 1608, Act III,
      Fore God it is a delicate fine suite, rich stuffe, rare worke, and of the newest fashion; nay if the Senats businesse were neuer so hasty, I will stay to try it on, come, help good wenches helpe, so there, there there.
    • 1763, Arthur Murphy, The Citizen, London: G. Kearsly, Act II, Scene 1, p. 27,
      Who is this fellow, Corinna? Some journeyman taylor, I suppose, who chuses to try on the gentleman’s cloaths before he carries them home—
    • 1868, Louisa May Alcott, Little Women, Chapter 19,
      […] Amy tried on the blue ring with a delighted face and a firm resolve to earn it.
    • 1929, Thomas Wolfe, Look Homeward, Angel, New York: Scribner, Part Two, Chapter 17, p. 188,
      “It would be a pity to throw away a good pair of shoes,” she said. “Try ’em on, boy.”
  2. (transitive, slang) To attempt; to undertake.
    • 1861, Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, Chapter 25,
      “He says, and gives it out publicly, “I want to see the man who’ll rob me.” Lord bless you, I have heard him, a hundred times, if I have heard him once, say to regular cracksmen in our front office, “You know where I live; now, no bolt is ever drawn there; why don’t you do a stroke of business with me? Come; can’t I tempt you?” Not a man of them, sir, would be bold enough to try it on, for love or money.”
    • 1953, Mary Renault, The Charioteer, New York: Pantheon, 1959, Chapter 2, p. 26,
      He could have feigned noncomprehension, but with Lanyon one didn’t try anything on.

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