essay

noun
es·​say | \ ˈe-ˌsā How to pronounce essay (audio) ; senses 2, 3 & 4 also e-ˈsā How to pronounce essay (audio) \

Definition of essay

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : an analytic or interpretative literary composition usually dealing with its subject from a limited or personal point of view
b : something resembling such a composition a photographic essay
2a : effort, attempt especially : an initial tentative effort
b : the result or product of an attempt
3 : a proof of an unaccepted design for a stamp or piece of paper money
4 obsolete : trial, test

essay

verb
es·​say | \ e-ˈsā How to pronounce essay (audio) , ə-ˈsā, ˈe-ˌsā How to pronounce essay (audio) \
essayed; essaying; essays

Definition of essay (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to make an often tentative or experimental effort to perform : try
2 : to put to a test

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Other Words from essay

Verb

essayer noun

Synonyms for essay

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

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Choose the Right Synonym for essay

Verb

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 essay in a Sentence

Noun Your assignment is to write a 500-word essay on one of Shakespeare's sonnets. The book is a collection of his previously unpublished essays on a variety of topics. Verb There is no hint as to which of the approaches essayed in this book will prove most useful. he had been in gymnastics for some time before he even considered essaying that move
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The essay is excerpted from the Wildsam Field Guide to Manhattan. Nick Paumgarten, The New Yorker, "The Great New York City Roller-Skating Boom," 1 May 2021 In April, one of the prominent children of the essay was killed off. Nicholas Clairmont, Washington Examiner, "Word of the Week: 'Essay'," 29 Apr. 2021 The author of the essay that inspired that video was former Alabama offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood of Pensacola, Florida. Joseph Goodman | Jgoodman@al.com, al, "Overinflated Urban Meyer could learn from history in first NFL Draft," 29 Apr. 2021 Her particular perspective sheds light on the complexity of race in the United States; the essay follows her education in a history that is not straightforwardly her own, and yet is inescapable. Claire Messud, Harper's Magazine, "New Books," 27 Apr. 2021 Preslee also told her dad that her teacher was impressed by the essay. Washington Post, "A teen’s letter about her dad’s alcoholism went viral — and helped heal their relationship," 20 Apr. 2021 The essay is about his friendship with a boy named Ben-Zion Elefantin, and about the casual but intense anti-Semitism at the academy during his time there. New York Times, "Emotions Haunt a Man for Life in Cynthia Ozick’s Tragicomic ‘Antiquities’," 19 Apr. 2021 The essay was published in an obscure newspaper in Macao, perhaps indicating no mainland Chinese outlet was willing to publish it. James Griffiths, CNN, "Did China's former Premier just subtly criticize President Xi Jinping?," 19 Apr. 2021 The essay shares a title with her full-length literary debut, which hits shelves in late April. Ilana Kaplan, EW.com, "Michelle Zauner on the urgency of her pain in Crying in H Mart," 15 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Blanchett narrates that essay here, along with four others. Marshall Heyman, Vulture, "8 Great Audiobooks to Listen to This Month," 21 Apr. 2021 McMurtry, who had in his later years split his time between his small Texas hometown of Archer City and Tucson, Arizona, wrote dozens of books, including novels, biographies and essay collections. Jamie Stengle, ajc, "Pulitzer Prize-winning author Larry McMurtry dies at 84," 26 Mar. 2021 McMurtry, who had in his later years split his time between his small Texas hometown of Archer City and Tucson, Arizona, wrote dozens of books, including novels, biographies and essay collections. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Pulitzer Prize-winning author Larry McMurtry dies at 84," 26 Mar. 2021 Further details were not immediately available. McMurtry, who had in his later years split his time between his small Texas hometown of Archer City and Tucson, Arizona, wrote almost 50 books, including novels, biographies and essay collections. Jamie Stengle, Chron, "Pulitzer Prize-winning author Larry McMurtry dies at 84," 26 Mar. 2021 McMurtry, who had in his later years split his time between his small Texas hometown of Archer City and Tucson, Arizona, wrote dozens of books, including novels, biographies and essay collections. Star Tribune, "Pulitzer Prize-winning author Larry McMurtry dies at 84," 26 Mar. 2021 Not Just You essay delivered to your inbox every Sunday. Susanna Schrobsdorff, Time, "What Learned About Ourselves In the First Year of the Pandemic," 28 Feb. 2021 Kristina Durocher, the museum’s director, saw them in a New York Times essay Jennings wrote last June. Cate Mcquaid, BostonGlobe.com, "A reporter sketches his ‘Toxic Youth’ working in a New Hampshire factory," 4 Feb. 2021 Even before the health crisis set in, the University of North Texas at Dallas started backing away from the SAT subject tests and essay portions. Valeria Olivares, Dallas News, "The SAT is dropping parts of its exam. What does that mean for Texas students?," 25 Jan. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'essay.' 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 essay

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for essay

Noun

Middle French essai, ultimately from Late Latin exagium act of weighing, from Latin ex- + agere to drive — more at agent

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Time Traveler for essay

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for essay

Last Updated

6 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Essay.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/essay. Accessed 16 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for essay

essay

noun

English Language Learners Definition of essay

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a short piece of writing that tells a person's thoughts or opinions about a subject

essay

verb

English Language Learners Definition of essay (Entry 2 of 2)

formal : to try to do, perform, or deal with (something)

essay

noun
es·​say | \ ˈe-ˌsā How to pronounce essay (audio) \

Kids Definition of essay

: a short piece of writing that tells a person's thoughts or opinions about a subject

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