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 As the protests continue to evolve, there are growing suspicions that government actors will attempt to derail the them by provoking protesters into violent action in order to provide a premise for heavy-handed clampdowns. Yomi Kazeem, Quartz Africa, "Young Nigerian protesters are using social media to dispel misinformation from traditional media," 14 Oct. 2020 That’s what De La Salle-Concord will attempt to do at St. John Bosco-Bellflower on Jan. 8. Mitch Stephens,, "De La Salle sets football opener at St. John Bosco in state-title rematch," 10 Oct. 2020 Now the backdrop to Trump’s hospitalization are questions about whether other nations will attempt to exploit not just the President’s illness but a nation in crisis. Robin Wright, The New Yorker, "Presidential Illnesses Have Changed the Course of World History," 4 Oct. 2020 The new mayor will attempt to fill the shoes of longtime Mayor Leonard Scarcella, the only mayor Stafford knew from 1969 until his death on June 28. Roy Kent, Houston Chronicle, "THIS WEEK: Chamber slates Stafford candidates forum for Thursday," 27 Sep. 2020 Research suggests that lesbian, gay and bisexual adults are two times more likely to attempt suicide compared to heterosexual adults. Taylor Stevens, The Salt Lake Tribune, "First-of-its-kind report addresses ways to reduce suicide among Utah’s LGBTQ+ community," 23 Sep. 2020 The defense struggled badly during their loss to the Green Bay Packers, and the unit will attempt to get back on track when the Vikings play against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday (10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET, FOX) in a Week 2 game. oregonlive, "Minnesota Vikings vs Indianapolis Colts: Score updates, odds, time, TV channel, how to watch free live stream online (9/20/2020)," 20 Sep. 2020 The Marvelous Mrs Maisel will attempt to come back after its Fleabag comedy defeat last year — only now the Amazon Prime series has competition from the farewell seasons of Schitt’s Creek and The Good Place. Ariana Romero,, "Could Zendaya Actually Win An Emmy? Here Are The Expert Predictions," 14 Sep. 2020 According to Football Outsiders, Coach John Harbaugh was nearly four times more likely to attempt a fourth-down conversion than the typical N.F.L. coach. Mike Tanier, New York Times, "Lamar Jackson and the Ravens Are Breaking More Than N.F.L. Records," 9 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun CollegeHumor and FunnyorDie were struggling; NBC’s attempt at a comedy streaming service, Seeso, shut down, as did Turner’s comedy site Super Deluxe. Kate Knibbs, Wired, "ClickHole Started as a Meat Joke. Can It Avoid Being Offal?," 22 Oct. 2020 His attempt last year to exit Crown entirely through a A$10 billion ($7 billion) takeover by Wynn Resorts Ltd. fell apart. Angus Whitley,, "Billionaire’s Landmark Casino Opens With His Empire in Turmoil," 22 Oct. 2020 Tensions hit a tipping point earlier this year when a rogue attempt by private contractors, which included several former U.S. Special Forces soldiers, to kidnap Maduro failed. Fox News, "Trump's German ambassador tried to secretly negotiate Venezuelan president's exit," 22 Oct. 2020 Another day, another failed attempt to pass a new COVID-19 aid bill as millions of Americans struggle financially after a wave of job losses in the coronavirus recession. Ashley Shaffer, USA TODAY, "470,000 opioid deaths, three criminal charges," 21 Oct. 2020 The Bears never trailed and were facing a Panthers defense that came into the day ranked second-to-last in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per attempt (5.4). Dan Wiederer,, "Chicago Bears QB rewind: Nick Foles and Matt Nagy are feeling optimistic. But is their hopeful outlook justified?," 20 Oct. 2020 Constitutionally, there is nothing that mandates a nine-justice court, and Franklin Roosevelt’s 1937 attempt to add six justices to the court offers a precedent of sorts. WSJ, "The Case for and Against Court Packing," 20 Oct. 2020 No attempt to run the ball after about the 1st quarter, even as Mixon and the O-line were doing good work. Paul Daugherty, The Enquirer, "Doc's Morning Line: 10 things from Cincinnati Bengals' loss to the Indianapolis Colts," 19 Oct. 2020 Unfortunately, the previous administration’s attempt to make good on that consensus — Obamacare — has failed to deliver on its promises. Seema Verma, National Review, "Obamacare’s Illusion of Pre-existing Condition Protections," 19 Oct. 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

24 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Attempt.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Oct. 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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