1 of 2


at·​tempt ə-ˈtem(p)t How to pronounce attempt (audio)
attempted; attempting; attempts

transitive verb

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


2 of 2


: 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
: something resulting from or representing an attempt
… surrounded by lemon trees and a few attempts at rose bushes.Marian Engel
: attack, assault
an attempt on the life of the president
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
Former President Donald Trump attempted to take credit on Monday for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's acquittal in the state Senate on 16 articles of impeachment. Misty Severi, Washington Examiner, 18 Sep. 2023 In response, some recent church initiatives have attempted to bring more transparency to controversial issues about founder Joseph Smith’s life and church teachings. The Salt Lake Tribune, 18 Sep. 2023 The largest transfer African Parks has ever attempted was in 2021, when the group moved 30 rhinos to Rwanda from South Africa. Rachel Nuwer,, 18 Sep. 2023 An initial investigation into the crash found that the plane's front landing gear failed while its pilot, the only occupant, attempted to land at the museum's airfield just after 11 a.m. on Sunday morning, the Stow Fire Department said in a post shared to Facebook. Emily Mae Czachor, CBS News, 18 Sep. 2023 When the teen attempted to retrieve the weapon again, deputies shot him in the hand with a rubber bullet, Chronister said. Victoria Arancio, ABC News, 17 Sep. 2023 The supervisor reportedly discovered Taylor was attempting to smuggle contraband into the detention center. Staff Report, Arkansas Online, 17 Sep. 2023 Read full article State Police were notified of the theft at 3:42 p.m. and soon found the SUV in the O’Neill Tunnel and attempted to stop it, a State Police spokesman said in a separate statement. Ashley Soebroto,, 6 Sep. 2023 Shah's legal team attempted to have the charges dismissed in August 2021, but a judge denied the request. Stephanie Wenger, Peoplemag, 6 Sep. 2023
That’s largely seen as an attempt by OPEC members to look out for their own domestic priorities, given how heavily oil revenues backstop public budgets in those countries. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, 19 Sep. 2023 In an attempt to manage her stress and anxiety, the actress took a break from acting in 2018. Charna Flam, Peoplemag, 19 Sep. 2023 August’s strong export performance comes at a time when brands like Rolex, Patek Philippe, and Omega are raising prices in an attempt to offset growing manufacturing costs. Bryan Hood, Robb Report, 19 Sep. 2023 That move was seen by some writers and industry observers as an attempt to go around WGA’s negotiators. Wendy Lee, Los Angeles Times, 19 Sep. 2023 From 1932 to 1933, Stalin carried out the Holodomor by closing the borders of Ukraine and taking crops and farm equipment from Ukrainian farmers in what was described by the USSR as an attempt to collectivize farming in the region. Alex Hulvalchick, Chicago Tribune, 19 Sep. 2023 Each walk now provides a small step toward another attempt at motherhood — our next one’s coming up this fall. Blake Turck, Washington Post, 19 Sep. 2023 In a statement provided by a spokesperson, Giuliani lashed out at Costello and the lawsuit, portraying it as an overly aggressive attempt to collect. Marianna Sotomayor,, 19 Sep. 2023 In an attempt to obstruct their work, residents used felled trees and burning tires as makeshift barricades, preventing officials from entering the forests surrounding their villages. Heather Chen, CNN, 19 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'attempt.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Verb and Noun

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

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


circa 1534, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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

Dictionary Entries Near attempt

Cite this Entry

“Attempt.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 verb
at·​tempt ə-ˈtem(p)t How to pronounce attempt (audio)
: to try to do or perform
attempt an escape
: to make an effort : try
attempt to solve the problem


2 of 2 noun
: the act or an instance of attempting
especially : an unsuccessful effort
: attack entry 2 sense 1
an attempt on the president's life

Legal Definition


: 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

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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