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 attemptable (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 Other reptiles, amphibians and small mammals can attempt to seek safety underground, which is likely what the diverse populations of snakes, lizards and other small creatures who call the Tonto home will do. Erin Stone, azcentral, "As Bush Fire becomes one of largest in Arizona history, water and wildlife at risk," 22 June 2020 The Trump administration could attempt again to rescind the program. Anna Giaritelli, Washington Examiner, "Supreme Court blocks Trump from ending Obama-era DACA program," 18 June 2020 In the videos, members of the New Mexico Civil Guard surround the sculpture as some protesters attempt to go around them. NBC News, "Man arrested after protester is shot during demonstration over conquistador statue in New Mexico," 16 June 2020 When officers attempt to arrest Brooks, a struggle breaks out. Fox News, "Atlanta police arrest 42 in weekend protests over shooting of Rayshard Brooks," 15 June 2020 His endorsement could prove pivotal as Howard and Willis attempt to woo progressive voters Wise Smith had targeted in his campaign. Christian Boone, ajc, "Longtime Fulton DA forced into run-off vs. former chief deputy," 10 June 2020 The company that controls the underwater ruins, R.M.S. Titanic Inc., last month to attempt to remove the Marconi telegraph that was used to radio for help when the oceanliner sunk in 1912. Rachel Weiner, Washington Post, "Government moves to block removal of telegraph from Titanic," 9 June 2020 And most of the systems that governments create can only attempt to quantify death, reducing it to a list or a toll, unable to truly illuminate it. Teresa Mathew, The New Yorker, "Professional Mourners’ Laments from Quarantine," 9 June 2020 The Spurs will attempt to make their playoff push without LaMarcus Aldridge. Jeff Mcdonald,, "As Spurs’ facility reopens, a new normal begins," 8 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Baseball's exciting new development of Monday evening is an attempt to save face. Dave Clark, The Enquirer, "Guest TML: MLB hopes to save face, blame coronavirus if 60-game season is ruined," 23 June 2020 The rule is an attempt to stop the wave of new COVID-19 cases in Oregon, and will impact 55% of people who live in the state. oregonlive, "Coronavirus in Oregon: What you need to know about wearing masks to slow a resurgence of COVID-19," 22 June 2020 Silber said such accusations are an attempt to discredit the motivations of those who chose to protest after George Floyd's death. Madison Dibble, Washington Examiner, "George Soros spokeswoman: Conspiracy theories about funding protesters are 'insulting' and a distraction," 21 June 2020 Two Canadian detainees in China were charged with spying Friday, in what officials are saying is an attempt to pressure Canada to drop charges against a top Huawei executive under house arrest in Vancouver. Fox News, "Canadian detainees face charges of spying against the Chinese government," 20 June 2020 The antitrust cudgel may in fact be an attempt to force Amazon to spruce up its labour track record. The Economist, "And on the second day... Can Amazon keep growing like a youthful startup?," 18 June 2020 The Mavericks’ second game against Los Angeles (a 110-107 home loss Jan. 21) was much closer than the first (a 114-99 home loss Nov. 26), so a third attempt before the playoffs could prove beneficial. Callie Caplan, Dallas News, "Mavs playoff breakdown: Reasons for optimism, pessimism and key stats vs. 5 potential opponents," 18 June 2020 The collaboration is Walmart’s latest attempt to expand the scale and profitability of its $21.5 billion US e-commerce business, which is gaining ground on market leader but continues to lose money. Matthew Boyle,, "Shopify advances after deal with Walmart expands its reach," 15 June 2020 This was Dixon’s second attempt at a political comeback after being forced from office amid a public corruption scandal. Washington Post, "Ex-Baltimore mayor concedes primary to council president," 13 June 2020

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

26 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Attempt.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for attempt


How to pronounce attempt (audio)

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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