assay

verb
as·​say | \ a-ˈsā How to pronounce assay (audio) , ˈa-ˌsā How to pronounce assay (audio) \
assayed; assaying; assays

Definition of assay

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to analyze (something, such as an ore) for one or more specific components assayed the gold to determine its purity
b : to judge the worth of : estimate assay the results of the new changes
2 : try, attempt Again Israel assayed to reply, but could not.— Herman Melville

intransitive verb

: to prove up in an assay

assay

noun
as·​say | \ ˈa-ˌsā How to pronounce assay (audio) , a-ˈsā How to pronounce assay (audio) \

Definition of assay (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : examination and determination as to characteristics (such as weight, measure, or quality)
2 : analysis (as of an ore or drug) to determine the presence, absence, or quantity of one or more components also : a test used in this analysis
3 : a substance to be assayed also : the tabulated result of assaying
4 archaic : trial, attempt

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Other Words from assay

Verb

assayer noun

Did You Know?

Noun

Usage experts warn against confusing the verbs "assay" and "essay." Some confusion shouldn't be surprising, since the two words look alike and derive from the same root, the Middle French word essai, meaning "test" or "effort" (a root that in turn comes from Late Latin exagium, meaning "act of weighing"). At one time, the two terms were synonyms, sharing the meaning "try" or "attempt," but many modern usage commentators recommend that you differentiate the two words, using "essay" when you mean "to try or attempt" (as in "he will essay a dramatic role for the first time") and "assay" to mean "to test or evaluate" (as in "the blood was assayed to detect the presence of the antibody").

Examples of assay in a Sentence

Verb They assayed the gold to determine its purity. the company assayed a sample of the rock to see if it contained gold in quantities worth mining Noun a metallurgist did an assay on the metal and determined it contained nickel the poem about a frustrated man's last assay at greatness
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb How does the saliva test differ from a standard nasal swab assay for COVID-19? Tanya Lewis, Scientific American, "COVID-19 Spit Tests Used by NBA Are Now Authorized by FDA," 20 Aug. 2020 With spectrometers for assaying elements in the regolith, the briefcase-size rover hopes to make the most of the 14-Earth-day lunar day. Sanjay Kumar, Science | AAAS, "'Failure is part of the game': Indian spacecraft presumed lost after moon landing attempt," 7 Sep. 2019 This Saturday, as a tribute to Previn’s memory at the opening weekend of Tanglewood, the Boston Symphony will assay the concerto, with Mutter as soloist. New York Times, "The Week in Arts: Sarah Jessica Parker Back for More ‘Divorce’; a Farewell to ‘My Fair Lady’," 29 June 2019 But interoperability—from ad-blocking to switching app stores—is a means by which customers can assay real counteroffers. The Economist, "Regulating Big Tech makes them stronger, so they need competition instead," 6 June 2019 After giving the foragers a day to recover from their treatments, the researchers assayed pathogen loads across all of the ants in the colony. Diana Gitig, Ars Technica, "Sick ants stay away from the kids," 26 Nov. 2018 At the Pantages, the role is assayed by Adrianna Hicks, an ensemble player in the Broadway revival who hasn’t quite made the leap to headliner. Charles Mcnulty, latimes.com, "'The Color Purple' national tour turns down the wattage — and burns a little less brightly," 30 May 2018 That was followed by another sweaty hour in which Hinterhäuser assayed all six of Ustvolskaya’s piano sonatas, written between 1947 and 1988, with no break between them. Mark Swed, latimes.com, "This year's Ojai Music Festival was bright, and dark, and very very hot," 12 June 2018 David Lord and a team at Sandia National Laboratories have been working on finding and developing methods for analyzing oils from different fields to quickly assay their chemical constituents. Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic, "The Great Crude-Oil Fireball Test," 5 Feb. 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The assay includes a swab, a vial of extraction solution and a cassette the size of a small flash drive. Emma Court, Bloomberg.com, "Rapid New Covid-19 Test From Access Bio Cleared in U.S.," 13 Oct. 2020 To clean up the starting material, most test protocols then call for performing an assay that extracts out just the genetic material, clearing away all the debris and inconsequential bits. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "COVID spit test is faster, cheaper, avoids shortages—and now greenlit by FDA," 18 Aug. 2020 The technique often involves a technology—called a lateral flow assay—similar to that employed in home pregnancy tests. Jim Daley, Scientific American, "Millions of Rapid COVID-19 Antigen Tests May Help Fill the Testing Gap," 7 May 2020 In one standard susceptibility assay, exposure to clothianidin for 1 hour killed 100% of Anopheles coluzzii. Munyaradzi Makoni, Science | AAAS, "Some mosquitoes already have resistance to the latest weapon against malaria," 31 Aug. 2020 This is useful since the extraction step takes extra time and the reagents used in the assay are currently in short supply. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "COVID spit test is faster, cheaper, avoids shortages—and now greenlit by FDA," 18 Aug. 2020 This assay only works on a platform specific to many of Ortho Clinical’s blood tests. Katherine Ellen Foley, Quartz, "Why the FDA authorized just one test to classify all Covid-19 plasma," 9 Sep. 2020 But the assay used in the paper, which targets the nucleoprotein of the virus, is particularly prone to false negative results, Slifka says. Kai Kupferschmidt, Science | AAAS, "Some people can get the pandemic virus twice, a study suggests. That is no reason to panic," 24 Aug. 2020 So far, each vaccine candidate has been tested using a different procedure—known as an assay— conducted in different labs. Jeremy Kahn, Fortune, "Scientists to Wall Street: You don’t really understand how COVID vaccine tests work," 24 Aug. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'assay.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of assay

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 2

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4

History and Etymology for assay

Noun and Verb

Middle English, from Anglo-French assai, essai — more at essay entry 1

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Time Traveler for assay

Time Traveler

The first known use of assay was in the 14th century

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Statistics for assay

Cite this Entry

“Assay.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/assay. Accessed 29 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for assay

assay

verb
How to pronounce assay (audio) How to pronounce assay (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of assay

technical : to test something (such as a metal or drug) to find out what it contains

assay

noun
as·​say | \ ˈas-ˌā How to pronounce assay (audio) , a-ˈsā How to pronounce assay (audio) \

Medical Definition of assay

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : examination and determination as to characteristics (as weight, measure, or quality)
2 : analysis (as of a drug) to determine the presence, absence, or quantity of one or more components — compare bioassay
3 : a substance to be assayed also : the tabulated result of assaying
as·​say | \ a-ˈsā How to pronounce assay (audio) , ˈas-ˌā How to pronounce assay (audio) \

Medical Definition of assay (Entry 2 of 2)

: to analyze (an impure substance or mixture) for one or more specific components the sample was assayed for drug content

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Comments on assay

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