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

Other Words from attempt


attemptable \ ə-​ˈtem(p)-​tə-​bəl How to pronounce attempt (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 Bahar played briefly at the end of the Ravens’ 20-3 preseason victory over the Carolina Panthers on Aug. 21, but did not attempt a pass, rushing twice for minus-3 yards. Baltimore Sun Staff,, 23 Nov. 2021 The Ducks went on a 14-1 run to cut the gap to 59-55 with 47 seconds left, but didn’t attempt to steal the ball enough and fouled instead and the Bulls were able to hang on. James Crepea | The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, 22 Nov. 2021 Local police controlled traffic as the migrants walked toward the city's outskirts, but authorities did not attempt to stop them. Arkansas Online, 19 Nov. 2021 The Troxlers started to see fertility specialists to determine what was going on, and found that most doctors wouldn't even attempt to help a 50-year-old woman conceive, particularly with the couple's preexisting health conditions. Julie Mazziotta,, 19 Nov. 2021 Diallo received another seven-minute stint in the second half and didn’t attempt another shot but hustled on the defensive end. Dana Gauruder, Detroit Free Press, 18 Nov. 2021 Schedule both big and little tasks for the day: Don't attempt to complete all the time-consuming and hefty projects in one day. Jenna Ryu, USA TODAY, 16 Nov. 2021 Against Walter Wellborn, Fyffe ran for 362 yards and didn’t attempt a pass. ... Reports, al, 9 Nov. 2021 The persistent myth that women don’t attempt to negotiate helps to justify the status quo and may obscure the true causes of the salary gap. Laura Kray And Margaret Lee, WSJ, 14 Oct. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Petras has a better passer rating (79.5 to 68.3), better completion percentage (57.7 to 45.9) and more yards per attempt (6.5 to 6.1) than Padilla. Michael Cohen, Detroit Free Press, 29 Nov. 2021 In each of those three games, Kentucky has produced a pair of 100-yard rushers and averaged more than seven yards per rushing attempt. Tim Sullivan, The Courier-Journal, 29 Nov. 2021 And the Vikings are allowing 4.8 yards per attempt, the second-most in the NFL. Eric Branch, San Francisco Chronicle, 27 Nov. 2021 After a 39-yard touchdown pass from Jared Goff to Josh Reynolds provided an early 7-0 lead, the Lions averaged just 5.4 yards per attempt on their final 20 passes. Dan Wiederer,, 26 Nov. 2021 Tailback Jashaun Corbin remains an elusive threat out of the backfield, averaging an ACC-best 6.4 yards per attempt. Edgar Thompson,, 26 Nov. 2021 The Ravens rank 11th in the league in passing and 14th in yards per attempt. Childs Walker,, 26 Nov. 2021 The Bears favor the rush, running more than 400 plays on the ground this season and picking up almost six yards per attempt. New York Times, 24 Nov. 2021 His yards per pass attempt fell from 8.2 through eight games to 4.5 vs. an aggressive Chiefs defense, Dallas’ total offensive production down from its 433.9 yards per-game clip to 276. Jori Epstein, USA TODAY, 23 Nov. 2021

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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Dictionary Entries Near attempt




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Statistics for attempt

Last Updated

30 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Attempt.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Dec. 2021.

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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.

More from Merriam-Webster on attempt

Nglish: Translation of attempt for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of attempt for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about attempt


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