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To pursue means to follow someone or something with the intention of catching or attacking them. Pursue can also mean to make an effort to obtain or accomplish something, such as a goal or a career.
Ex: Scientists have discovered that falcons do not pursue their prey by simply flying straight at it. Instead, they use motion camouflage to deceive their targets.
Ex: Glen is taking extra lessons in organic chemistry because he wants to pursue a career as a doctor.
The act of following someone or something is called a pursuit. To be in pursuit of something means to chase after it.
Ex: The cops' pursuit of the suspect ended in tragedy when the suspect performed a dangerous maneuver on a busy road, causing an accident in which six were wounded.
Ex: Frank will do anything, no matter how much it harms the people he loves, to get ahead in his pursuit of power.


To trail means to follow along behind a person or animal, typically by using marks, scents, or signs that the person or animal has left behind. When speaking about a competition or game, if one trails the other it means that he is lagging behind or losing.
Ex: Some hunters trail the animals for some time before trying to catch them so that they can increase their odds of having a successful hunt.
Ex: In the most recent polls, the challenger is trailing the incumbent by more than twenty points, which isn't too surprising: since the incumbent is already in office, she is well known by voters.
When someone is hot on the trail of something or someone, it means that he is very close to finding or catching that person or thing. To trail behind means to follow, move, or drag along behind something.
Ex: The agent thought he was hot on the trail of the con artist, but the criminal had ingeniously set up a series of false clues to distract the agent.
Ex: During the wedding ceremony, a long train trailed behind the bride, but her dress allowed her to remove the train for the reception afterwards.
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