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 Mobley did not attempt shot over the first 15 minutes, fading as Arizona gave him extra attention underneath. Ryan Kartje, Los Angeles Times, "USC beaten on the boards as seven-game win streak ends with loss to Arizona," 20 Feb. 2021 Also on the show: Anthony Edwards took over in the fourth quarter of a close loss Tuesday to the Lakers, while Karl-Anthony Towns didn't attempt a shot in the quarter. Star Tribune, "Will Twins offseason moves finally lead to some playoff wins?," 17 Feb. 2021 The video spots open with warnings: Do not attempt to re-enact. Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press, "Ford ditches boring tutorials with new Mustang Mach-E videos," 11 Feb. 2021 Do not attempt to drive anything taller than a golf cart down Storrow Drive. Kara Baskin,, "What are you -- new?," 7 Feb. 2021 On the extra point after the second touchdown, a bad snap messed up the timing, and Crosby didn’t attempt the kick. Mark Inabinett |, al, "JK Scott punts, passes in Packers’ playoff victory," 17 Jan. 2021 And just like Kilmer’s blond Batman didn’t attempt to mimic what Keaton accomplished under the mask a quarter century ago, Leslie isn’t trying to do what’d been done before. Washington Post, "New Batwoman Javicia Leslie always wanted to be a superhero," 17 Jan. 2021 According to Police Chief William McManus, detectives decided to test the handgun in 2016 after a meeting with the local chapter of the NAACP, during which some people questioned why detectives did not attempt to obtain fingerprints on the gun. Emilie Eaton,, "Case of Marquise Jones, Black man killed by San Antonio police officer, will not be presented again to grand jury, officials say," 13 Jan. 2021 Trump is confident Vice President Mike Pence and members of his Cabinet won't attempt to remove him under the 25th Amendment, the people said. Tribune News Service, Arkansas Online, "Trump said to plan defiant final week amid push for ouster," 11 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun An attempt at mediation to find a permanent arrangement had been unsuccessful as of May. Jen Juneau,, "Gage Edward Speaks Out for First Time About Ex Jeff Lewis After Dinner Together: 'I Started to Heal'," 23 Feb. 2021 Any attempt to retrieve it only places it further out of reach. Alison Willmore, Vulture, "The 101 Greatest Endings in Movies History," 22 Feb. 2021 But without saying the word, any attempt to spur change will fall short. Star Tribune, "A racism reckoning in Rondo," 20 Feb. 2021 There is something about imbuing, maybe, that pursuit with more of an attempt at importance or intellectualizing or spiritualizing it that feels worthwhile. Josh Greenblatt, Vogue, "Kate Berlant and Jacqueline Novak on Their Podcast “Poog,” and the Meaning of Wellness," 19 Feb. 2021 Expanding the ways for people to access these things at least makes an attempt at making the playing field more diverse. San Diego Union-Tribune, "La Mesa may expand public comment opportunities," 18 Feb. 2021 During the particularly offensive interview, Lindsay was subjected to Harrison's failed attempt at defending the contestant's past racist behavior. Natalie Morin,, "Rachel Lindsay Hopes Chris Harrison’s Bachelor Hiatus Leads To Actual Change," 16 Feb. 2021 Florida relies heavily on tourism, which means any attempt to stop interstate travel could have vast repercussions on the Sunshine State. Caitlin Mcfall, Fox News, "Florida Gov. DeSantis calls threats of domestic travel ban ‘unconstitutional, unwise and unjust’," 12 Feb. 2021 In that case, the former dictator, Augusto Pinochet, retained his post as supreme commander of the army and was able to threaten reprisals if any attempt was made to put his soldiers on trial. Aryeh Neier, The New Republic, "The Persistence of Hate In American Politics," 27 Jan. 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

27 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Attempt.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Mar. 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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Comments on attempt

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