1 a : to analyze (something, such as an ore) for one or more specific components
b : to judge the worth of : estimate
3 : to prove to be of a particular nature by means of analysis
Did You Know?
Usage experts warn against confusing the verbs assay and essay. Some confusion shouldn't be surprising, since the two words look alike and derive from the same root, the Middle French essai, meaning "test" or "effort" (a root that, in turn, comes from the Late Latin exagium, meaning "act of weighing"). At one time, the two terms were synonyms, sharing the meaning "try" or "attempt," but many modern usage commentators recommend that you differentiate the two words, using essay when you mean "to try or attempt" (as in "he will essay a dramatic role for the first time") and assay to mean "to test or evaluate" (as in "the blood was assayed to detect the presence of the antibody").
"Each burger will be assayed by visitors and a panel of judges, including local chefs Jen Knox, Gina Sansonia, Judith Able, Bret Hauser, Camilo Cuartas and Peter Farrand." — Phillip Valys, SouthFlorida.com, 19 May 2017
"He bounced from job to job, working on a shrimp boat and later for Pan American Laboratories assaying chemicals coming in from Mexico." — Steve Clark, The Brownsville (Texas) Herald, 21 Apr. 2017
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