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A visible trail of streaks of condensed water vapor or ice crystals sometimes forming in the wake of an aircraft. Also called vapor trail.

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.


(Aeronautics) another name for vapour trail
[C20: from con(densation) + trail]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014



a visible condensation of water droplets or ice crystals from the atmosphere, occurring in the wake of an aircraft, rocket, or missile.
[1940–45; con(densation) trail]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.contrail - an artificial cloud created by an aircraft; caused either by condensation due to the reduction in air pressure above the wing surface or by water vapor in the engine exhaust
cloud - a visible mass of water or ice particles suspended at a considerable altitude
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


n (Aviat) → Kondensstreifen m
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007
References in periodicals archive ?
Many of the videos feature the "chemtrails" conspiracy theory - a belief that condensation trails left by planes deliberately eject harmful substances to modify the weather, control people, or for biological or chemical warfare.
"Chemtrails, the name given to condensation trails left by aircrafts, that some believe are chemical agents sprayed by the government, also ranked highly in both countries, as did the popular theory that the moon landings were a hoax."
The team ruled out other explanations of things that could cause these dust clouds to show up in the photographs - including optical artefacts, faint clouds in the skies of the Earth, and condensation trails of aircraft.
Until the sky appears to be, An Einsteinian equation; Or perhaps those condensation trails, Are some mad scientist's creation?
The report, ordered by Agriculture Minister Nicos Kouyialis back in February, determined that contrails (short for condensation trails) are responsible for the phenomenon observed where white trails crisscross the sky, sometimes lingering there for hours.
A study in the journal Nature Climate Change by researchers from the University of Reading's Department of Meteorology has said the world's present design of aircraft may lower the formation of their distinctive condensation trails (
According to study published by the journal Nature Climate Change: "Aircraft condensation trails and the clouds that form from them may be causing more warming today than all the aircraft-emitted carbon dioxide that has accumulated in the atmosphere since the start of aviation."
the reduction of long-lived GHG emissions, such as CO2, is essential, but lower levels of short-lived GHG emissions (heavy aerosols, tropospheric ozone, jet condensation trails) could also make a major contribution.
A study in 2002 had suggested that condensation trails left behind by jets could have a significant effect on daily temperature patterns.
I don't dispute that cars pose a threat to the environment, but planes pose a much greater one because a) their exhaust fumes are emitted at high altitude, where they create a blanket of translucent smog which reflects heat back to the earth, b) hot moist air from the engines helps form condensation trails which add to global warming and c) the burning of kerosene in aircraft engines helps to form cirrus clouds which also adds to it.
The 95,000 gas turbine engines that currently power the world's commercial aircrafts represent about 3% of the emitted C[O.sub.2], not accounting for the impact of Nitrogen Oxides as well as the condensation trails. In order to reduce the C[O.sub.2] emission of aircraft engines, we would need to improve the efficiency of turbomachinery components.