In "The Touchstone" in Dr. Thorndyke's Case-Book by R. Austin Freeman, Thorndyke went to an old disused chalk-pit, where a dead man found after he fall from above path, the edges of which were covered by bushes and branches:

Well, apart from the robbery, a clear fall of over thirty feet is enough to account for a fractured skull. Will you stay here, Jervis, while I run up and look at the path?"

He went off towards the entrance, and presently I heard him above, pulling aside the bushes, and after one or two trials, he appeared directly overhead.

"There are plenty of footprints on the path," said he, "but nothing abnormal. No trampling or signs of a struggle. I am going on a little farther."

I found that "trampling" mean "Tread on and crush", but does it here mean "violence" or "attack"? As I can't see its dictionary meaning suitable here!

  • 3
    This might be a better fit for ELU. "Trampling" is just more-than-expected ground being scuffed/grass being crushed.
    – Spencer
    Aug 26 '20 at 21:47
  • 2
    Actually better on English Language Learners since it's just about the definition of a well-known word. Aug 27 '20 at 14:13

Trample in Merriam-Webster:

especially : to tread heavily so as to bruise, crush, or injure

If someone is walking outside, their steps may crush vegetation or otherwise cause damage to the ground. This is especially likely if someone is not merely walking casually, but is engaged in a struggle. And if that struggle involves throwing someone to the ground, that probability increases further. So while "trampling" does not refer directly to a struggle, it can be a result of a struggle.


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