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

Residues of these substances still linger in the soil, posing a challenge to those now attempting to make a go of small farming on the island. Wade Graham, Smithsonian, "Why Molokai, With All Its Wonders, Is the Least Developed of Hawai’i’s Islands," 31 Aug. 2019 What these numbers may or may not reflect is the recent turmoil brewing within groups of unionized workers fighting for better rights and non-unionized workers attempting to organize. Aj Willingham, CNN, "64% of Americans support labor unions but membership is at a record low," 31 Aug. 2019 Combs was identified and pronounced dead on the scene after police received a call around 4 p.m. on Tuesday, reporting that a jet car attempting to break a land speed record crashed in the Alvord Desert in southeastern Oregon. Eric Todisco,, "Late Mythbusters Star Jessi Combs Almost Lost Her Life in Freak Accident 12 Years Ago," 29 Aug. 2019 On Thursday, lawyers in both Edinburgh and Belfast in Northern Ireland filed injunctions attempting to either block Johnson's suspension itself or his advice to the Queen, who is traditionally bound to follow the advice of the prime minister. David Meyer, Fortune, "Boris Johnson’s Latest Ploy Prompts Political Chaos That’s Extreme Even By Brexit Standards," 29 Aug. 2019 Gonzalez was accused of taking petitions from the mayor’s place on the council dais and attempting to alter them. Scott Huddleston,, "Castle Hills council drama far from over as power struggle continues in San Antonio suburb," 28 Aug. 2019 Cellphone video showed a Riverside police officer attempting to arrest the suspect, who has not been identified. CBS News, "Police used Taser on Ohio stabbing suspect before series of crashes that killed two children," 27 Aug. 2019 Defender Ali Krieger played the ball back to Harris, who attempted to take several touches through the box before passing up the field. Julia Poe, Pro Soccer USA, "Orlando Pride fall 2-1 to Washington Spirit in front of sold-out Audi Field crowd," 26 Aug. 2019 After Brown died, questions arose about multiple bigamy, DNA tests and a quarreling family attempting to resolve entitlement to an estate valued as high as $100 million. Eriq Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter, "Deaths in Entertainment Become Problems for the Federal Judiciary," 22 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Apopka blocked the extra point attempt and led 7-6 at half. John Peery,, "Apopka defeats Coral Gables to open Jeff Rolson regime," 31 Aug. 2019 Friday’s was the first crossing attempt in Ceuta in over a year. Washington Post, "Over 150 migrants in Morocco climb fences to Spanish enclave," 30 Aug. 2019 Monroy again tried a sneak on the two-point conversion attempt, but was stopped inches short of the goal line. Daily Pilot, "Costa Mesa football ends 16-game losing streak with win over Santiago," 30 Aug. 2019 The Associated Press noted that this was the third attempt by Iran to launch a rocket and said the first two, in January and February had failed. CBS News, "Trump sparks confusion with tweet of apparent Iranian launch site," 30 Aug. 2019 The apparent attempt to launch the Nahid-1 comes after two failed satellite launches of the Payam and Doosti in January and February., "Iran planned a rocket launch against U.S. wishes. Satellite photos show it apparently didn’t go well.," 29 Aug. 2019 The apparent attempt to launch the Nahid-1 comes after two failed satellite launches of the Payam and Doosti in January and February. Greg Norman | Fox News, Fox News, "Satellite images suggest Iranian rocket blew up on launch pad," 29 Aug. 2019 The Chargers are also likely to play offensive linemen Trent Scott and Forrest Lamp as the two attempt to gain as much experience as possible. Los Angeles Times, "Emeke Egbule is among Chargers fighting for roster spot in preseason finale at 49ers," 28 Aug. 2019 No Brexit The attempt to shut down parliament has already prompted a challenge in the Scottish courts, and others that could lead to cancelling Brexit might follow. Adam Rasmi, Quartz, "Boris Johnson has asked the Queen to suspend UK parliament," 28 Aug. 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

3 Sep 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).


recurring in steady succession

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