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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Nick Folk worked with the backups and didn’t attempt any field goals. Jim Mcbride,, 30 July 2022 Hogan appeared in one game as Iowa's third-string quarterback last season but did not attempt a pass. Jon Hale, The Courier-Journal, 27 July 2022 In the series, Kang arrives from the 31st century alongside his son Marcus and doesn’t merely attempt to take over the world, but succeeds! Richard Newby, The Hollywood Reporter, 26 July 2022 His book doesn’t attempt to draw lines between species that dream and those that may not. Camille Bromley, The Atlantic, 18 July 2022 Edwards also did not attempt to settle, according to his agent, Peter Schaffer. Colleen Kane, Chicago Tribune, 18 July 2022 If the United States doesn't attempt to exert influence, Biden and his aides have said repeatedly, then China and Russia will rush in -- and shape the future of the region. Arkansas Online, 17 July 2022 More than an hour passes as local, state and federal officers gather in the hallway but do not attempt to enter the classroom even after hearing more gunshots. Editors, USA TODAY, 16 July 2022 If the United States doesn’t attempt to exert influence, Biden and his aides have said repeatedly, then China and Russia will rush in — and shape the future of the region. Tyler Pager, Washington Post, 16 July 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Sophie is still trying to get her life — marked by a fancy house, vast wardrobe and one gala event after another — back together five months after what authorities have deemed a suicide attempt, involving a leap from a ferry. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 28 July 2022 There was sporadic touring in the intervening years, an earlier attempt at a film, and the exit of two original band members. Steve Appleford, SPIN, 27 July 2022 The Federal Trade Commission has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Meta in an attempt to stop the Facebook parent company from purchasing Within, which makes the popular virtual reality fitness app Supernatural. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, 27 July 2022 Along with Brandon Perra as Angel, the trio attempt to capture the object on film. Jazz Tangcay, Variety, 26 July 2022 But Warhol’s color-blocking attempt to update old-timey photographs into something artfully abstract and modern fails, looking instead like C-minus fliers from an undergraduate design class. Los Angeles Times, 25 July 2022 Perversely, this attempt to mitigate the harms of price controls will introduce new, wasteful development costs into the system. Craig Garthwaite, STAT, 23 July 2022 Kayakers Ben Stookesberry, Nouria Newman and Erik Boomer attempt to traverse the Chalupas River in Ecuador’s Llanganates National Park. Olivia Mccormack, Washington Post, 19 July 2022 And unlike the January 6, 2021, coup attempt, it’s not a discrete event. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, 19 July 2022 See More

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.

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

2 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Attempt.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for attempt


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.

More from Merriam-Webster on attempt

Nglish: Translation of attempt for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of attempt for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about attempt


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