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

Other Words from assay

Verb

assayer noun

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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, 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, 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, 29 June 2019 But interoperability—from ad-blocking to switching app stores—is a means by which customers can assay real counteroffers. The Economist, 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, 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, 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, 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, 5 Feb. 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Replacing a large-scale drug assay with a computational query saves millions of dollars each time. Quanta Magazine, 2 Nov. 2021 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s assay fell flat. Los Angeles Times, 15 Oct. 2021 The combination of access to the SARS survivors in Singapore, which had the fifth highest number of cases of any country, and the new assay made this study possible, according to Wang. Jon Cohen, Science | AAAS, 18 Aug. 2021 First, a sensitive enzyme immunoassay (EIA) or immunofluorescence assay (IFA), both of which look for the presence of antibodies, or proteins the immune system produces in response to an antigen (a foreign substance in the body, such as a virus). Kate Fridkis, SELF, 14 Apr. 2021 Then Yoda gets to work — picking up and delivering biological assay trays between scanning instruments scattered throughout the lab in a demonstration of how the Biosero’s technology helps speed up drug discovery through automation. Mike Freeman, San Diego Union-Tribune, 11 June 2021 My team worked with virologist Shi Zhengli of the Wuhan Institute of Virology to develop a human antibody assay to test for a very distant cousin of SARS-CoV-2 found in bats. Maureen Miller, The Conversation, 1 June 2021 Each of the four nanobodies effectively neutralized SARS-CoV-2 by roughly 50% in a plaque-reduction assay on their own. William A. Haseltine, Forbes, 5 May 2021 Then—if that test result is unclear or is positive, which mine was—additional testing can come in the form of the Western immunoblot assay, which tests for immunoglobulin M (IgM) or immunoglobulin G (IgG) response antibodies. Kate Fridkis, SELF, 14 Apr. 2021

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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Dictionary Entries Near assay

assault weapon

assay

assayable

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Cite this Entry

“Assay.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/assay. Accessed 5 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for assay

assay

verb

English Language Learners Definition of assay

: 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

assay

transitive verb
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

More from Merriam-Webster on assay

Nglish: Translation of assay for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of assay for Arabic Speakers

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