at·​tempt | \ ə-ˈtem(p)t How to pronounce attempt (audio) \
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 \ ə-​ˈtem(p)-​tə-​bəl How to pronounce attempt (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for attempt

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

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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

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 The Financial Times reported that Biden will attempt to get Moon to take a tougher line on China, but South Korea may be hesitant to do so. Joshua Berlinger, CNN, 21 May 2021 The second option would attempt to mix vaccines, which China currently does not recommend, the South China Morning Post reported. Peter Aitken, Fox News, 12 Apr. 2021 Klein adds that in the coming months, the company will attempt compare hard disk drives and SSDs of a similar age so as to reach a fairer comparison. Barry Collins, Forbes, 7 May 2021 Paramedics carried the bodies, many burned beyond recognition, to al-Zafaraniya Hospital, where Ahmed said forensics teams will attempt to identify them by matching DNA samples to relatives. Time, 25 Apr. 2021 Paramedics carried the bodies, many burned beyond recognition, to al-Zafaraniya Hospital, where Ahmed said forensics teams will attempt to identify them by matching DNA samples to relatives. Samya Kullab, Anchorage Daily News, 25 Apr. 2021 Another was a requirement that officers attempt de-escalation in an effort to avoid needing to use force at all. Sarah Westwood, Washington Examiner, 22 Apr. 2021 The need on that side of the ball is so obvious that Stephen Jones doesn’t even attempt subterfuge going into the draft. David Moore, Dallas News, 20 Apr. 2021 White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain signaled that the administration will attempt to reach out to Republicans but is focused solely on getting a bill approved. Jennifer Haberkorn, Los Angeles Times, 1 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun All-Star center Joel Embiid at the rim on a layup attempt, and Embiid appeared to land hard on his back afterward. Bryan Toporek, Forbes, 1 June 2021 There is some thought that this was a sinister right-wing attempt to test and demonstrate what dark money can do. John Brummett, Arkansas Online, 1 June 2021 His decision to now perform concerts honoring his father’s rich musical legacy might — in the hands of a less gifted artist — seem like a crass attempt at cashing in. George Varga, San Diego Union-Tribune, 31 May 2021 An attempt was also made to remove a catalytic converter from a car parked on the 9200 block of Maryland Street on May 27, damaging the vehicle, police said. Pioneer Press Staff,, 31 May 2021 Four minutes later, Rask himself swiped a puck into the net with his glove after saving Palmieri’s attempt to stuff it in. Jimmy Golen,, 31 May 2021 Ted is back as manager of AFC Richmond, originally the target of a misguided attempt at tanking but now enjoying the full support of the owner. Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic, 31 May 2021 Mathew Barzal, whose lack of pluck resulted in but one shot attempt over his 16:24 in ice time., 31 May 2021 Shoemaker went from retiring 11-consecutive batters from the end of the first inning through the fourth to allowing four hits, two runs and a walk plus a pickoff-attempt throwing error in the fifth, gifting Kansas City a 5-2 lead. Megan Ryan, Star Tribune, 30 May 2021

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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Time Traveler for attempt

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for attempt

Last Updated

3 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Attempt.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Jun. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce attempt (audio) \
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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