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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from attempt


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

Synonyms for attempt

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Other companies may or may not also attempt to take advantage of the stimulus money. Fox News, "Texas company looking to dock stimulus money from paychecks, relieve their payroll: report," 29 Mar. 2020 In many households, both parents are now attempting to work from home alongside their children, a radical alteration to families’ circumstances that has already been playing out in China, Italy, some US states, and many other places. Cassie Werber, Quartz at Work, "Parents working from home are suddenly having a new conversation about equality," 29 Mar. 2020 In 1977, in aviation’s worst disaster, 583 people were killed when a KLM Boeing 747, attempting to take off in heavy fog, crashed into a Pan Am 747 on an airport runway on the Canary Island of Tenerife., "This day in history," 27 Mar. 2020 For the Chinese Communist Party, attempting to co-ordinate and control the psychological response to the outbreak of covid-19 is part of an effort to maintain order and social stability. Betsy Joles, 1843, "Coronavirus calling," 16 Mar. 2020 Costa was soon slipping into his preferred role of pantomime villain, petulantly throwing the ball away as Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian attempted to take a quick free-kick. Matias Grez, CNN, "Atletico Madrid stuns Liverpool at Anfield to dump holder out of the Champions League," 11 Mar. 2020 The trial Ferro and his colleagues are conducting, the first to attempt to stem cardiovascular disease by interfering with neutrophils, is expected to have results by 2021 or 2022. Mitch Leslie, Science | AAAS, "New drugs aim to disarm the immune system’s ‘atomic bomb’ cells," 5 Mar. 2020 Ordinarily, such stresses would indicate insolvency and banks would attempt to collect. The Economist, "Where the bucks stop Can America’s banking system keep cash flowing if activity dries up?," 5 Mar. 2020 This increase in traffic, with huge numbers of climbers all trying to squeeze their summit attempts into narrow spring weather windows, resulted in viral photographs of seemingly endless lines of climbers, clipped into a single rope. Jon Griffith, National Geographic, "THE BEST OF NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX," 13 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun As countries around the world enact lockdowns in an attempt to curb the pandemic, some leaders have scoffed at containment efforts. New York Times, "Coronavirus Live Updates: 200,000 Americans Could Die, Warn Top Health Officials," 30 Mar. 2020 In an attempt to lighten the mood, somehow the Taylor/Kanye feud returned, which was perhaps even more nonsensical than the Hannah Montana reunion, but can anything match director Tom Hooper’s Cats commentary for sheer, out-of-the-box weirdness? Graeme Mcmillan, Wired, "While You Were Offline: When Did You Know You Had Cabin Fever?," 29 Mar. 2020 In an attempt to avoid outright layoffs, employees making $100,000 a year or more will undergo pay cuts, and some will be suspended or furloughed. Rebecca Sun, The Hollywood Reporter, "APA Reduces Salaries Over $100K Amid Pandemic," 28 Mar. 2020 Local municipalities have encouraged absentee voting in an attempt to curtail the spread of COVID-19. Ricardo Torres, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "As coronavirus spreads and unemployment claims mount, voters line up for absentee ballots," 28 Mar. 2020 Many of those carry spam, phishing attempts or malware, DomainTools’ vice president of product Jackie Abrams wrote in a blog post this week. NBC News, "Photo: Workers accept confinement to keep making masks," 27 Mar. 2020 In an attempt to quell the bubbling desire for Stars hockey, The News will look back on the top five individual performances of the regular season, one that is potentially over due to the coronavirus pandemic. Matthew Defranks, Dallas News, "Stars’ Best of the Season: Alexander Radulov turns season around with hat trick vs. Wild," 27 Mar. 2020 Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed has enacted an indefinite, 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew starting Friday night in an attempt to contain the coronavirus. Howard Koplowitz |, al, "Montgomery mayor enacts indefinite, seven-hour curfew starting 10 p.m. tonight," 27 Mar. 2020 When the disease spread to a white teenager outside the quarantine zone, officials began burning buildings in a desperate attempt to quell the disease. Bess Lovejoy, Smithsonian Magazine, "The Pioneering Health Officer Who Saved Portland From the Plague," 25 Mar. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about attempt

Time Traveler for attempt

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for attempt

Last Updated

1 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Attempt.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Apr. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

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).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Flower Edition

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!