c. 1300, "examine judiciously, discover by evaluation, test;" mid-14c., "sit in judgment of," also "attempt to do," from Anglo-French trier (13c.), from Old French trier "to pick out, cull" (12c.), from Gallo-Roman *triare, of unknown origin. The ground sense is "separate out (the good) by examination." Sense of "subject to some strain" (of patience, endurance, etc.) is recorded from 1530s. To try on "test the fit of a garment" is from 1690s; to try (something) on for size in the figurative sense is recorded by 1946. Try and instead of try to is recorded from 1680s.