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) \

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

article, composition, paper, theme

Synonyms: Verb

assay, attempt, endeavor, seek, strive, try

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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 The book is a collection of his previously unpublished essays on a variety of topics.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

What the author could not have known at the time was that the essay, and its presence on the Homegrown website, would take on pointed new meaning just a few months later. Aria Thaker, Quartz at Work, "How Indian media company Homegrown imploded in the wake of #MeToo," 11 June 2019 Driven by a half century of feminist scholarship and further propelled by the #MeToo movement, her essay helps us see the depth of female friendship and of women’s refusal to kowtow to men in Shakespeare’s plays. James Shapiro, The Atlantic, "Shakespeare Wrote Insightfully About Women. That Doesn’t Mean He Was One.," 8 June 2019 In her essay, Clarke outlines her emotional journey with the two brain aneurysms, which happened at such busy times in her life and career. Christopher Rosa, Allure, "Lena Headey Wrote the Kindest Message to Emilia Clarke About Her Brain Aneurysms," 23 Mar. 2019 In her essay, Clarke outlines her emotional journey with the two brain aneurysms, which happened at such busy times in her life and career. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Lena Headey Wrote the Kindest Message to Emilia Clarke About Her Brain Aneurysms," 22 Mar. 2019 In the midst of yet another chaotic news cycle, Olivia Munn has written a short essay on one of the most important issues currently plaguing civilization: fashion critics calling out bad outfits. Lauren Alexis Fisher, Harper's BAZAAR, "Why Criticizing a Bad Red Carpet Outfit Is Not Sexist—or Personal," 25 Apr. 2019 Follow him on Instagram and buy his book of essays. Clinton Kelly, Woman's Day, "Clinton Kelly Says You Shouldn't Have to 'Dress Your Age'," 27 Mar. 2019 The shooter, using a high-powered AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, started firing in a first-floor hallway of the Stoneman Douglas freshman building near where a ninth-grade girl was sitting in class writing an essay on her laptop. Washington Post, "Survivors describe carnage at Florida high school massacre," 29 June 2018 This enigmatic tale can be interpreted as an essay on management failure; the unnamed narrator fails to find a strategy that can motivate his employee. The Economist, "Introducing Bartleby, our new column on management and work," 26 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Meghan recalled in her Elle essay how her seventh grade English teacher told her to check the box for Caucasian on a mandatory census. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "Meghan Markle and Her Dad: A Timeline of Their Rocky Relationship," 6 Mar. 2019 Meghan recalled in her Elle essay how her seventh grade English teacher told her to check the box for Caucasian on a mandatory census. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "Meghan Markle and Her Dad: A Timeline of Their Rocky Relationship," 6 Mar. 2019 From Beyoncé's overarching creative direction, to Tyler Mitchell (at 23-years old, the publication's first-ever black cover photographer), to the candid as told to essay, everything came together to solidify its place in history. Emily Wang, Glamour, "Beyoncé Wears This Highlighter, and No Higher Endorsement Exists," 7 Aug. 2018 Like 48 voices all essaying the song stylings of the just-out-of-adolescence version of the figure now grandly known as His Lordship, or, to his friends, Sir Andrew, or, in the cheaper seats, plain old Andrew Lloyd Webber. Chris Jones, chicagotribune.com, "'Jesus Christ Superstar' means 'gig theater' is coming to the Lyric Opera," 18 Apr. 2018 But country twang is her guiding principle, and her songs vividly essay failed and burgeoning relationships. Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader, "Whitney Rose enfolds bits of Tex-Mex and 60s pop into her lush, retro-tinged sound," 5 July 2018 Specifically, documentaries essaying one particularly magnetic celebrity personality, or a singularly gripping tale. David Sims, The Atlantic, "What’s Driving Documentaries to Box-Office Success?," 11 July 2018 In 2011, Waller shifted her focus to essay and fiction writing and founded Crooked Door Storytelling, a Fine Arts consulting company that offers story programs, public speaking training and creative writing workshops to students and professionals. Chicago Tribune, chicagotribune.com, "Algren Award runner-up: "Here Is Where the Taxi Driver Set His Wife on Fire" by GKS Waller," 2 June 2018 Few records fully and frankly essay the realistic ups-and-downs of a young man’s fancy as has Khalid Robinson’s American Teen. Philly.com, "Memorial Day fireworks, Sail Philadelphia, Devon Horse Show, and other events in Philadelphia, May 25-June 1," 24 May 2018

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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Dictionary Entries near essay

ess

Essaouira

essart

essay

essayette

essay examination

essayist

Statistics for essay

Last Updated

21 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for essay

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

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on essay

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with essay

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for essay

Spanish Central: Translation of essay

Nglish: Translation of essay for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of essay for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about essay

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