attempt

verb
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

attempt

noun

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

Verb

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

Verb

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

Verb

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

Noun

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

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 Further Reading Toyota’s new magnet won’t depend on some key rare-earth minerals A hedge fund recently bought Mountain Pass out of bankruptcy after several companies attempted to turn a profit from it. Megan Geuss, Ars Technica, "Tariffs on Chinese rare-earth minerals create a sticky problem for US competitors," 30 Nov. 2018 Mike attempts to reason with Ryan, but can't seem to find common ground. Emma Dibdin, Country Living, "5 Moments From the 'Last Man Standing' Premiere That We Can't Stop Talking About," 29 Sep. 2018 When Popular Mechanics attempted to get a flash drive sent to New York, a message popped up saying that such purchases were not allowed in the state. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Defense Distributed Is Selling 3D Printed Gun Files—Through the Mail," 28 Aug. 2018 The Dolce & Gabbana trouble began with a series of Instagram ad campaigns released this week in which a female Chinese model attempts to eat various Italian dishes with chopsticks. Rebecca Jennings, Vox, "A Dolce & Gabbana show was canceled after racist online messages leaked," 21 Nov. 2018 The game was built from the ground up using a new engine for the team (Unreal 4) and was localized in languages that had not previously been attempted by the studio. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Activision ignores accessibility guidelines, skips Spyro subtitles," 19 Nov. 2018 Attorney General Xavier Becerra has sued the Trump administration dozens of times, attempting to block efforts to penalize sanctuary cities or to roll back environmental protections, among other things. Matt Viser, The Seattle Times, "Trump blames California for natural disaster, adding to denunciations of strongly Democratic state," 13 Nov. 2018 Levin especially wants patients with a history of keloidal scars, eczema, and psoriasis to check with their dermatologist before attempting a semi-permanent BB procedure. Leah Prinzivalli, Allure, "What Is Semi-Permanent BB Cream, and Why Are People Getting It Microneedled Into Their Faces?," 9 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

If Amazon hadn’t gotten in the way of Seattle’s attempt to fund affordable housing — or if the city, unhindered by business interests, had acted sooner — would there be a need for a new Mary’s Place shelter? Gaby Del Valle, Vox, "Jeff Bezos’s philanthropic projects aren’t as generous as they seem," 29 Nov. 2018 But taken as a whole, the PlayStation Classic is a fascinating and refreshing look at a very specific and important time, offering not only some of the best early attempts at 3D, but also some of the most awkward. Andrew Webster, The Verge, "PlayStation Classic review: a journey through the exciting, awkward days of early 3D games," 27 Nov. 2018 All of those attempts have been, in one way or another, successful (though also typically poorly documented). Rob Dunn, Discover Magazine, "Our Attempts to Eradicate Insects are Just Making them Resistant to Pesticides," 16 Nov. 2018 Instead, the Spencers became convinced that Gersh's offer to sell the property was part of an extortion attempt to use the threat of protests to force Spencer to sell her property for below-market rates. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Judge rejects neo-Nazi’s First Amendment argument in harassment case," 15 Nov. 2018 Among gay, lesbian, and bisexual students, suicide attempts have increased more than 25 percent since 2009. Eileen Reslen, Seventeen, "3 Vital Tips for College Students Who Are Struggling With Mental Health," 10 Oct. 2018 The service is latest in a long line of attempts by multiple companies to make large-scale game streaming work, dating back over a decade. Eric Limer, Popular Mechanics, "Can Microsoft Finally Make Game Streaming Work?," 8 Oct. 2018 There's talk of flying lobsters, attempts to impress a date gone wrong, and a rather unfortunate smoothie incident. Cnt Editors, Condé Nast Traveler, "Things You Should Never, Ever Do in a Restaurant: Travelogue Podcast," 14 Sep. 2018 According to Hello! the absence may have been the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's attempt to skip out on causing a spectacle at their friend's wedding. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "Why Prince William and Kate Middleton Skipped Charlie van Straubenzee's Wedding," 6 Aug. 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

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

circa 1534, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for attempt

Verb

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

Noun

see attempt entry 1

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Statistics for attempt

Last Updated

10 Dec 2018

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

attempt

verb

English Language Learners Definition of attempt

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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

attempt

noun

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

attempt

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

Kids Definition of attempt

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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

attempt

noun

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.

attempt

noun
at·​tempt

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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