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 The book is a collection of his previously unpublished essays on a variety of topics.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 Abdurraqib, a poet and music critic who came up as a black punk in middle America, zips from culture to counterculture in this collection of snackable essays. Soleil Ho, SFChronicle.com, "Wait in line at that new restaurant? Bring these books along," 20 Jan. 2020 There is an open book in her lap—a collection of Jung’s essays. Stephen O’connor, Harper's magazine, "The Interpretation of Dreams," 20 Jan. 2020 The collection of essays on major figures in the British 19th century challenged the prevailing view of the Victorians as incurious moral prudes. ... The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Gertrude Himmelfarb," 1 Jan. 2020 Rob McCue popped up out of nowhere with this debut collection of essays that describe life in Interior Alaska in ways that I’ve never seen done by any other Alaska writer. David James, Anchorage Daily News, "Our book reviewers’ favorite reads of 2019," 28 Dec. 2019 Some of the essays are repurposed from previous incarnations. Jim Higgins, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "'Milwaukee Rock and Roll' pieces together the story of music in this city," 16 Dec. 2019 The Benedict Option prompted a flurry of essays in evangelical magazines, panel discussions at Christian colleges, and at least one spin-off book from a young Dreher acolyte. Emma Green, The Atlantic, "The Christian Withdrawal Experiment," 12 Dec. 2019 In Eating the Sun, author Ella Frances Sanders takes readers on a breezy journey of discovery with a collection of short essays on fascinating topics from orbital mechanics to the microbiome. Jay Bennett, Smithsonian, "The Ten Best Science Books of 2019," 11 Dec. 2019 Her book of essays and life advice, Small Doses: Potent Truths for Everyday Use, was released in October. Perrie Samotin, Glamour, "Amanda Seales Has a Massive Collection of Leggings—Just Don’t Ask Her Where She Gets Them," 9 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Unlike many overblown jukebox show, this one dispenses with the ubiquitous record company suits and needs just two performers: one to play Patsy Cline and the other to essay the role of a fan who becomes her pal. Chris Jones, chicagotribune.com, "Review: In ‘Always ... Patsy Cline’ two actresses rotate between the star and her fervent fan," 26 Nov. 2019 The first step was essentially answering a series of questions similar to essay prompts. Ephrat Livni, Quartz at Work, "Would you dare take a talent assessment inspired by the testing methods of the IDF?," 25 Nov. 2019 Instead, recent Oscar-winner Olivia Colman plays Queen Elizabeth II, Tobias Menzies portrays Prince Philip, and Helena Bonham Carter essays the role of Princess Margaret. Clark Collis, EW.com, "The Crown trailer showcases new cast and changing times," 21 Oct. 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 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

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

15 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Essay.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/essay. Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for essay

essay

noun
How to pronounce essay (audio) How to pronounce essay (audio)

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
How to pronounce essay (audio) How to pronounce essay (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for essay

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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