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 Maybe the hunters had attempted to kill this animal multiple times, perhaps tracking it over the years. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Two Traps Where Woolly Mammoths Were Driven to Their Deaths Found in Mexico," 9 Nov. 2019 The Ravens had attempted to sign Fort in the offseason, but the Philadelphia Eagles signed him to a three-year, $5.5 million contract in March. Daniel Oyefusi,, "Ravens sign LB L.J. Fort to two-year extension through 2021 season," 8 Nov. 2019 Sanders has also attempted to leverage the roiling debate over Medicare for All to his benefit by casting himself as a liberal fighter who is willing to raise taxes for something his supporters want., "“Getting a little tired, but you would too,” Sanders practically yelled, lifting his arms for a shrug as the voters in front of him laughed and cheered. “I’m feeling good.”," 8 Nov. 2019 Well-meaning efforts by federal and state authorities have attempted to address this problem by imposing universal standards on our sprawling, decentralized system of schools from far away. Matthew Ladner, National Review, "Arizona’s Success with Charter Schools Is a Model Other States Would Be Wise to Follow," 8 Nov. 2019 Sloss attempts something like the opposite, embedding the story of someone else’s trauma within a broader argument about the necessity of comedy. Eren Orbey, The New Yorker, "Daniel Sloss’s “X,” a Laddish Comic’s Reckoning with #MeToo," 8 Nov. 2019 If not for the penalty, the Packers would have attempted their game-tying field goal with about 1:36 to play, plenty of time for the Lions to potentially answer. Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Lions' 2019 season (so far) has been defined by these 5 plays," 7 Nov. 2019 First responders attempted lifesaving measures and took Mackenzie to St. Louise Regional Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Alejandro Serrano,, "Gilroy mom suspected of killing 2-year-old daughter allegedly told dispatcher she ‘just snapped’," 7 Nov. 2019 In Pixar’s first Soul trailer, the next animated film from Inside Out‘s Pete Docter attempts to tackle these existential questions while a soul does the hoedown in the great beyond. Nick Romano,, "Pixar's first Soul trailer sends Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey to the cosmos," 7 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Gladstein leads Marriotts Ridge with 13 goals this season and made her attempt in the first shootout, which ended in a 2-2 tie. Jacob Calvin Meyer,, "Tolle, Gladstein lead Marriotts Ridge field hockey to sudden-death win over Hereford in state semifinals," 8 Nov. 2019 Grogan’s comments on tobacco come as the administration has wavered on its attempts to ban some flavored vape products. Lev Facher, STAT, "Top Trump official argues ‘FDA shouldn’t be regulating’ tobacco products," 8 Nov. 2019 Despite their many attempts, there’ve never won and kept a Kurdish nation. John Broich, The Conversation, "Why there is no Kurdish nation," 6 Nov. 2019 The Washington-state mother said Ikea representatives have so far rebuffed her attempts to take Quiñones up on his offer to meet with her and fellow members of Parents Against Tip-Overs, an advocacy group. Tricia L. Nadolny, USA TODAY, "Ikea US president backpedals on meeting parents of children killed by recalled dressers," 6 Nov. 2019 That’s what’s defeated all of our attempts to create a vaccine. Karen Weintraub, Scientific American, "First New HIV Strain in 19 Years Identified," 6 Nov. 2019 The 29-year-old has been hugely impressive on loan with Roma, but their attempts to sign him permanently have been fruitless so far., "Roma Ready Improved Chris Smalling Bid as Inter & AC Milan Join Race for Man Utd Defender," 4 Nov. 2019 Hagans hoped a more serious approach would lead to better results in his second attempt at a top-five matchup to open the season. Jon Hale, The Courier-Journal, "Kentucky looks to avoid repeat of 2018 Duke embarrassment in No. 1-vs.-No. 2 opener," 4 Nov. 2019 The Rockets needed nearly six minutes before getting their first field goal of the second half, missing their first eight attempts of the half as the Heat pushed the lead back to 35 on the way to 40. Jonathan Feigen, Houston Chronicle, "Rockets get vaporized by Heat," 3 Nov. 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

12 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for attempt

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

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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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