at·​tempt | \ ə-ˈtem(p)t \
attempted; attempting; attempts

Definition of attempt

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to make an effort to do, accomplish, solve, or effect He attempted to swim the swollen river.
2 archaic : tempt
3 archaic : to try to subdue or take by force : attack



Definition of attempt (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : the act or an instance of trying to do or accomplish something : an act or instance of attempting something She failed the test on her first attempt but passed on her second attempt. They made an attempt [=tried] to be helpful. often : an unsuccessful effort a suicide attempt
b : something resulting from or representing an attempt … surrounded by lemon trees and a few attempts at rose bushes.— Marian Engel
2 : attack, assault an attempt on the life of the president

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Other Words from attempt


attemptable \ -​ˈtem(p)-​tə-​bəl \ adjective

Synonyms for attempt

Synonyms: Verb

assay, endeavor, essay, seek, strive, try

Synonyms: Noun

assay [archaic], bash [chiefly British], bid, crack, endeavor, essay, fling, go, offer, pass, shot, stab, trial, try, whack, whirl

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Choose the Right Synonym for attempt


attempt, try, endeavor, essay, strive mean to make an effort to accomplish an end. attempt stresses the initiation or beginning of an effort. will attempt to photograph the rare bird try is often close to attempt but may stress effort or experiment made in the hope of testing or proving something. tried to determine which was the better procedure endeavor heightens the implications of exertion and difficulty. endeavored to find crash survivors in the mountains essay implies difficulty but also suggests tentative trying or experimenting. will essay a dramatic role for the first time strive implies great exertion against great difficulty and specifically suggests persistent effort. continues to strive for peace

Examples of attempt in a Sentence


They've attempted a climb up Mount Everest once before. She attempted suicide early in their marriage.


She failed her driving test on the first attempt but she succeeded on her second attempt. Her attempt at a home-cooked meal consisted of frozen fish sticks and a can of soup.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Better Luck Tomorrow Justin Lin’s indie crime drama is centered on a group of highly successful students who attempt to enter a world of crime to change their lives for the better. Vogue, "The Best New Year’s Eve–Theme Movies and TV Shows to Watch Tonight," 31 Dec. 2018 Also appearing in the video, Fallon and Mark Ronson attempted to give Cyrus multiple gifts, but all were ridiculed or rebuffed. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Watch Miley Cyrus Perform Her Feminist Version of 'Santa Baby'," 22 Dec. 2018 This special serves as a time capsule for a tragic time in America, when commercial entertainment attempted to soothe the public. Liz Arcury, Marie Claire, "The 8 Best Celebrity Holiday Specials Ever," 29 Nov. 2018 Things only get more cryptic during the season 10 episode that airs on November 4, when Agent Callen (Chris O'Donnell) attempts to locate her. Megan Stein, Country Living, "Why Mosley on 'NCIS: Los Angeles' Is Causing a Lot of Problems," 4 Nov. 2018 The newspaper also spotlighted the case of a 35-year-old Texas man who said he was born in the United States but detained after attempting to re-enter the U.S. after a trip to Mexico in 2017. Alex Pappas, Fox News, "State Department pushes back on report about Hispanics being denied passports," 2 Oct. 2018 Meanwhile, good-natured cast members attempted to keep cool despite being dressed in heavy sweaters and jackets in 80-degree weather. Taysha Murtaugh, Country Living, "Hallmark's 'Christmas in Evergreen' Movie Was Filmed in a Village You Can Visit," 18 Nov. 2018 Several researchers have attempted to release parasitoid wasps into homes to control roaches. Rob Dunn, Discover Magazine, "Our Attempts to Eradicate Insects are Just Making them Resistant to Pesticides," 16 Nov. 2018 Photo: thomas white/Reuters As Beijing attempts to slow expansion in corporate debt, economic growth has slowed, weighing on the currency. Mike Bird, WSJ, "Yuan Wins Temporary Reprieve on Tariff Time-Out," 4 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

He was flown to Moscow late Tuesday in a desperate attempt to save his life. Jim Heintz, The Seattle Times, "Russian baby rescued after nearly 36 hours in frozen rubble," 2 Jan. 2019 Congress has made a half-hearted attempt to curtail the violence in Yemen The US government as a whole — from Congress to President Donald Trump — so far has done little to meaningfully put an end to hostilities in Yemen. Amanda Sakuma, Vox, "Saudi Arabia is reportedly outsourcing its war in Yemen to child soldiers," 30 Dec. 2018 According to Microsoft, you’ll then be prompted to use a PIN or Windows Hello to sign in on subsequent attempts. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Microsoft's latest Windows 10 build kills passwords, simplifies Start, and adds fun 'kaomoji'," 19 Dec. 2018 The company has also been running an aggressive TV advertising campaign this holiday season in an attempt to build on that growth. Rani Molla, Recode, "Peloton now has more U.S. customers than SoulCycle, new data suggests," 3 Dec. 2018 However, the opposite side of the kitchen was redone in the 1970s in a haphazard attempt to match the original 1930s side. Kate Wagner, Curbed, "To renovate or not to renovate?," 5 Sep. 2018 Everyone's least favorite Riverdale character, Penny Peabody, paid us a visit in the mid-season finale, attacking Archie in an attempt to collect Hiram's bounty on Archie's head. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "The "Riverdale" Mid-Season Finale Left Us Shook and With Multiple Questions," 13 Dec. 2018 Japan is doing this, VICE shares, in an attempt to address the country's housing crisis, which is caused by several different factors. Taylor Mead, House Beautiful, "The Free Homes Being Given Away In Japan Actually Have Some Scary History," 6 Dec. 2018 Jason Reitman's new film The Front Runner, based on journalist Matt Bai's book about Hart, is the latest attempt to revisit the events of 1987. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "The True Story of Gary Hart's Presidential Campaign Scandal in The Front Runner," 8 Nov. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'attempt.' 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 attempt


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


circa 1534, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for attempt

Verb and Noun

Middle English, from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French attempter, from Latin attemptare, from ad- + temptare to touch, try — more at tempt

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Statistics for attempt

Last Updated

8 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for attempt

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

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More Definitions for attempt



English Language Learners Definition of attempt

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to try to do (something) : to try to accomplish or complete (something)



English Language Learners Definition of attempt (Entry 2 of 2)

: an act of trying to do something

: something that results from trying to do something


at·​tempt | \ ə-ˈtempt \
attempted; attempting

Kids Definition of attempt

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to try to do, accomplish, or complete attempt to win



Kids Definition of attempt (Entry 2 of 2)

: the act or an instance of trying to do something They made two attempts to climb the mountain.



Legal Definition of attempt

: the crime of having the intent to commit and taking action in an effort to commit a crime that fails or is prevented

called also criminal attempt

— see also impossibility

Note: There must generally be more than preparation to be guilty of attempt.

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