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 Facebook will also place a label on posts by candidates who attempt to declare victory prematurely. TheWeek, "Kim Kardashian to freeze Facebook and Instagram accounts over spread of misinformation and hate speech," 15 Sep. 2020 The committee is also set to review a separate bill that would attempt to reform the FAA’s oversight of manufacturers such as Boeing in a hearing on Sept. 16. Alan Levin,, "Senate Unveils Legislation to Protect FAA Whistle-Blowers," 10 Sep. 2020 Trump administration officials have insisted that any foreign actors who attempt to interfere in the upcoming election will face retaliation. Grace Segers, CBS News, "DHS confirms it withheld intel report on Russia denigrating Biden's health, citing "quality concerns"," 2 Sep. 2020 Simulmatics helped introduce the now widespread belief that voters are putty in the hands of computers that attempt to mold their behavior. The New Yorker, "The Mail," 31 Aug. 2020 Also, by starting later in the fall, the Big Ten can benefit from observing what happens in the Power 5 conferences who attempt to play. Nathan Baird, cleveland, "If the Big Ten football can start on Thanksgiving weekend, can’t it start in October? Buckeye Talk Text Q&A," 29 Aug. 2020 Anti-trafficking advocates are also fighting a newer phenomenon, the conspiracy theories perpetuated on social media that attempt to link high-profile people to trafficking. Areeba Shah, The Christian Science Monitor, "How one teacher equips students to stop trafficking before it starts," 24 Aug. 2020 For one thing, ring-kissing has largely gone out of style, with Francis sometimes recoiling from parishioners who attempt the ritual. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Joe Biden’s Catholic politics are complicated, but deeply American," 17 Aug. 2020 It's further calibrated based on studies that attempt to untangle how much virus people emit while performing activities that involve exhalation. Maya Wei-haas, National Geographic, "Measure the risk of airborne COVID-19 in your office, classroom, or bus ride," 11 Aug. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Lillard was savage after George’s 3-point attempt from the corner hit the side of the backboard against the Nuggets in the fourth quarter. oregonlive, "Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum troll Patrick Beverley, Paul George after the Los Angeles Clippers’ Game 7 loss," 16 Sep. 2020 The Rodriguez family's one attempt for assistance fell through the cracks of bureaucratic red tape. Alison Medley, Houston Chronicle, "Houston couple with 7 children forced from home despite eviction ban," 16 Sep. 2020 Some of the broad components of the federal plan have already been discussed, but Wednesday's reports attempt to put the key details into a comprehensive framework. Ricardo Alonso-zaldivar, USA TODAY, "Feds outline sweeping plan to provide free COVID-19 vaccine for all Americans," 16 Sep. 2020 Some of the broad components of the federal plan have already been discussed, but Wednesday's reports attempt to put the key details into a comprehensive framework. Ricardo Alonso-zaldivar And Matthew Perrone, Star Tribune, "CDC head: Virus vaccine won't be widely available until summer of 2021," 16 Sep. 2020 The Army’s attempt to replace its outmoded Bradley tank is a case in point. Elliott Negin, Scientific American, "It's Time to Rein in Inflated Military Budgets," 14 Sep. 2020 Brees' record-setting attempt was his first incomplete pass of the day. Amie Just | Staff Writer,, "Defense shines, offensive play calling 'awful,' as Saints top Buccaneers in near-silent Superdome," 13 Sep. 2020 Kicker Luke Hansen added points beyond field goals when a sloppy snap on a point after attempt resulted in Hansen completing an unexpected two-point conversion pass to Isiah Cherry. Tess Demeyer, Dallas News, "Melissa continues hot streak to start season with third straight win after 51-17 victory over Pottsboro," 11 Sep. 2020 His parents' attempt to wean him off racing had failed dismally. Jonathan Hawkins, CNN, "Racing's nearly-man Hervé Poncharal finally secures the victory that eluded him for four decades," 10 Sep. 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

18 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Attempt.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Sep. 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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