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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ Much of our SleepTight tryout was spent deciphering directions.
▪ The next week, he took part in Little League tryouts.
▪ The producers of House of Flowers kept adding towns for what eventually amounted to a twenty-week tryout period.
▪ With a series of lame and recycled bits, this spring tryout comedy whacks us over the head with every joke.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Tryout \Try"out\, n.

  1. a test of the performance capability of a person, to ascertain fitness for a particular task; in sports, a test by which the fitness of a player or contestant to remain in a certain class is determined.

  2. (Theater) one or more performances of a play prior to the official opening, held at a location outside of the city where it is to be formally presented, conducted for the purpose of determining audience response or ascertaining weaknesses needing correction.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

also try-out, by 1900, from phrase to try out "to examine, test," attested by 1785.


n. 1 A test of the suitability or effectiveness of a person or thing, especially of a performer (an audition) 2 A trial run

  1. n. trying something to find out about it; "a sample for ten days free trial"; "a trial of progesterone failed to relieve the pain" [syn: trial, trial run, test]

  2. a test of the suitability of a performer [syn: audition]


Tryout was an amateur press journal published from 1914 to 1946 by Charles W. Smith of Haverhill, Massachusetts. It was connected to the National Amateur Press Association.

Smith (1852-1948) was a friend and correspondent of H. P. Lovecraft; Tryout was the first outlet for the H. P. Lovecraft short stories " The Cats of Ulthar" (November 1920), " The Terrible Old Man" (July 1921), " The Tree" (October 1921), and " In the Vault" (November 1925). Smith provided the plot idea for "In the Vault".

Tryout also published non-fiction articles and several poems by Lovecraft. The publication was noted for its typographical errors, which Lovecraft referred to as "tryoutisms".

Tryout (theatre)

A tryout is the staging of performances of a theatrical production (i.e., a play or musical) at an off-site venue for evaluation and possible revision before the production premieres on Broadway or the West End. A tryout is similar to a workshop production in that the point is to identify and eliminate embarrassing flaws before the production is put on before highly demanding New York or London audiences, but unlike a workshop, it is usually more developed, less rough, and closer to the intended final product. If a tryout goes well and irons out the last few bugs, then that assures the project's investors that when it does debut on Broadway or the West End, it will already be fully polished and more likely to receive favorable reviews and play to sold-out houses for several years, so they can recoup their investment. Conversely, tryouts enable theatrical audiences in less prestigious markets to preview potential future hits and get bragging rights that they saw those works first.

The Shubert Theatre (New Haven) is an example of a theatre specializing in such tryouts for Broadway.

Popular tryout locations

  • New Haven, Connecticut: Oklahoma!, The King and I, My Fair Lady, 1776 (musical)
  • Philadelphia: Street Scene (opera), Kiss Me, Kate, A Raisin in the Sun
  • Boston: Porgy and Bess, Follies, La Cage aux Folles (musical)
  • Detroit: Hello, Dolly! (musical), Sweet Charity, Seesaw (musical)
  • Washington, D.C.: Show Boat, West Side Story, 42nd Street (musical)
  • San Diego: Rumors, Thoroughly Modern Millie (musical), Jersey Boys
  • Los Angeles: Peter Pan (1954 musical), The Happy Time (musical), Brighton Beach Memoirs)
  • Seattle: Hairspray (musical), The Light in the Piazza (musical), Catch Me If You Can (musical)

A tryout can also be the final rehearsal of a theatrical performance or the showing of a motion picture to a test audience and/or the press, preceding the premiere.

Usage examples of "tryout".

Needless to say, Barb went on to rhapsodize over how much dear little Scott Fleck had grown this past winter and didn't Sally agree that the boy deserved a tryout as pitcher for the Bobcats, too?

On the other hand, he had to do what was best for the team, and Dean had outflown Seamus at the tryouts.