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 \ -​ˈtem(p)-​tə-​bəl How to pronounce attemptable (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for attempt

Synonyms: Verb

assay, endeavor, essay, seek, strive, try

Synonyms: Noun

assay [archaic], bash [chiefly British], bid, crack, endeavor, essay, fling, go, offer, pass, shot, stab, trial, try, whack, whirl

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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


They've attempted a climb up Mount Everest once before. She attempted suicide early in their marriage.


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

That attempted bombing was my introduction to this entire subject. Leah Sottile, Longreads, "Chapter Five: The Remnant," 20 July 2019 Garner, 43, a black man, was accused of selling single cigarettes outside a store on Staten Island when Pantaleo attempted to arrest him. Joey Garrison, USA TODAY, "Media analysis: Trump rally chants drown out police cases in week of racial tension," 19 July 2019 And on July 10th Iranian forces attempted to halt a British tanker, reportedly retreating only when a British warship trained its guns on the Iranian boats. The Economist, "America claims to have downed an Iranian drone," 19 July 2019 When Ross attempted to speed away, McCauley shot him with a handgun, according to the prosecution. Sydney Czyzon, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Jesse McCauley to spend 35 years in prison for killing Minnesota man his girlfriend met at strip club," 18 July 2019 When authorities attempted to investigate, witnesses gave contradictory statements and the case was eventually dropped. Harriet Sokmensuer,, "15-Year-Old Sexual Assault Victim Was Abused by Detective Investigating Her Case," 17 July 2019 When Mexican soldiers attempted to stop the SUV, six people inside tried to run away, according to a news release from SEDENA. Wendy Fry, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Mexican Armed Forces recover arsenal of machine guns from California SUV," 16 July 2019 The second half started in similar fashion for Legion FC, when the home team had an early chance within the first minute when Wright attempted a shot off a Williams header. Cheryl Wray, al, "Legion FC earns home victory, beats North Carolina FC," 13 July 2019 This became a relevant fact when Flores attempted to delay the start of the trial. Michael Mccann,, "Analyzing Why James Harden Won Paparazzi Assault Trial," 10 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In 2016 and again in 2018, the state Republican Party endorsed challengers to Republican incumbents in an attempt to avert the creation of a coalition majority in the House. James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News, "Red on Red: Republican split in Alaska Legislature contributes to impasse," 7 July 2019 This is just yet another clunky attempt by MLB to shake down a city, any city, for a ballpark. Joe Sheehan,, "Rays' Outrageous Montreal Plan Only Exists to Get New Stadiums Built—Again," 2 July 2019 This was a reprehensible attempt by someone to box in the President. Ryu Spaeth, The New Republic, "The Meaning of Trump’s Historic North Korean Jaunt, in One Image," 2 July 2019 The cousin of a Maryland inmate was arrested in an alleged attempt to smuggle the narcotic suboxone into a Jessup prison Saturday afternoon — the second drug bust at a state prison in as many days, officials said. Colin Campbell,, "Cousin of Maryland inmate arrested in second prison drug bust in as many days," 1 July 2019 Last week, Mexico deployed 15,000 soldiers along the U.S. border in an attempt to reduce the number of migrants traveling to the country. Mitchell Peters, Billboard, "Selena Gomez Outraged Over 'Inhumane' Treatment of Children at U.S. Border Patrol Facilities," 30 June 2019 The case concerned the attempts by the Trump administration to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census — which critics say is a political move designed to marginalize people of color by giving them less federal representation. Scott Lemieux, Vox, "5 takeaways from the Supreme Court’s just-ended term," 29 June 2019 Despite attempts by two hospitals, Central Florida doesn’t have a pediatric heart transplant program. Naseem S. Miller,, "Hospitals, transplant programs could multiply in Central Florida with law change," 29 June 2019 The teaching hospitals have traditionally balked at attempts by Partners’ corporate office to dictate clinical affairs. Globe Staff,, "New Partners chief no stranger to role of uniter," 27 June 2019

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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Statistics for attempt

Last Updated

23 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for attempt

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

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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

What made you want to look up attempt? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


something desired as essential

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