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 The book is a collection of his previously unpublished essays on a variety of topics.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 In a fiery personal essay, Caroline Giuliani, the daughter of President Donald Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden. Sophie Lewis, CBS News, "Rudy Giuliani's daughter endorses Biden to end Trump's "reign of terror"," 16 Oct. 2020 In a 1999 essay, UCLA political scientist Xandra Kayden wrote that Arco, more than a leading oil company on the West Coast, was a leading citizen. Doug Smith Senior Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Lodwrick Cook, epitome of L.A.’s bygone era of corporate engagement, dies," 16 Oct. 2020 Or at least that’s the prevailing thinking among China’s top policymakers, argues Rush Doshi, director of the Brookings China Strategy Initiative, in a new Foreign Policy essay. Grady Mcgregor, Fortune, "Xi Jinping’s new economic strategy for China: ‘Dual circulation’ or doublespeak?," 15 Oct. 2020 In a new essay published to the White House's website, first lady Melania Trump revealed that her and President Donald Trump's son, Barron, also tested positive for COVID-19. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Melania Trump Says Her Son Barron Also Contracted COVID-19," 14 Oct. 2020 In a 2017 law review essay, Barrett critiqued Chief Justice John Roberts's opinion that upheld the Affordable Care Act on the basis of treating the penalty for not complying with the individual mandate as a tax. Emily Larsen, Washington Examiner, "Biden falsely claims Amy Coney Barrett 'said she wants to get rid of the Affordable Care Act'," 12 Oct. 2020 Each installment will feature a personal essay that explores the unique joys and challenges of being single right now. Vanese Maddix, refinery29.com, "I’m Single, & The Hardest Part Of Dating Is Talking About My Mental Illnesses," 12 Oct. 2020 With characteristic clarity, Heather Mac Donald rolled off example after example in a recent City Journal essay. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, "Systemic Racism? Make Them Prove It.," 19 Sep. 2020 The piece was a good-faith essay about the habits Houstonians need to kick when behind the wheel. Jay R. Jordan, Houston Chronicle, "Houstonians share their driving pet peeves," 16 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The song, like the Joan Didion essay it’s named for, is his kiss-off to New York City. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "Sufjan Stevens Embraces His Anger," 16 Sep. 2020 At the end of the summer, pairs may choose to create a video interview or essay about the wisdom, values or life experience that has influenced the teen. Sergio Carmona, sun-sentinel.com, "Boca student inspires Perfect Pair program bonding teens and seniors," 14 Aug. 2020 Such is the case with Paraic O’Donnell‘s Irish Times essay that juxtaposes the progression of the seasons with the progression of his Multiple Sclerosis. Michelle Weber, Longreads, "How Do You Live In a Body That Doesn’t Feel Like Yours? If You Have No Choice, You Just Do.," 10 Aug. 2020 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

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

20 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Essay.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/essay. Accessed 21 Oct. 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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