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 The book is a collection of his previously unpublished essays on a variety of topics.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 an essay on his website, Mr. Yang, who built a passionate following in 2019 during the party’s primary race, highlighted his work for Democrats. Lisa Lerer, New York Times, 4 Oct. 2021 In the essay, Teigen explained that she was hospitalized for excessive bleeding due to a partial placental abruption, a rare and serious condition in which the placenta separates from the inner lining of the uterus. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, 29 Sep. 2021 Alan Braid, an obstetrician-gynecologist in San Antonio, explained his actions in an essay published in The Washington Post. Dom Calicchio, Fox News, 18 Sep. 2021 The late San Antonio cornet player Jim Cullum Jr. recounted the story in an essay archived by Stanford University as part of its Riverwalk Jazz Collection. Michael Corcoran, San Antonio Express-News, 8 Sep. 2021 Analyst Matthew Ball, in an essay, explained the rationale for Netflix’s gaming push, while also outlining major hurdles to success, including potential technological complications. Ryan Faughnder, Los Angeles Times, 7 Sep. 2021 His time in the natural world often informed his writing, including in an essay on climate change recently published in the Washington Post. Anchorage Daily News, 25 Aug. 2021 In the essay, Mattis says that alliances are important and tribalism is a destructive force. CNN, 19 Aug. 2021 Kaufman also shared her reaction to the study in an essay. Asaf Shalev, sun-sentinel.com, 18 Aug. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb And any buzzy novel, or even essay collection, now seems to be sold as a television show almost immediately, as if the former were just a sketch for the inevitable latter. Kyle Chayka, The New Republic, 4 Oct. 2021 Hansberry’s essay about how A Raisin in the Sun fits into the history of American theater more broadly is one of the most powerful aspects of Godfrey’s collection. Imani Perry, The New York Review of Books, 15 June 2021 The exhibition, which takes its name from a W.E.B. Du Bois essay about reconstruction in America, situated itself as a continuation in the larger project of liberation for Black people. Diana Budds, Curbed, 7 June 2021 Blanchett narrates that essay here, along with four others. Marshall Heyman, Vulture, 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, 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, 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, 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, 26 Mar. 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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Dictionary Entries Near essay

essart

essay

essayette

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Statistics for essay

Last Updated

9 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Essay.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/essay. Accessed 20 Oct. 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)

: 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

More from Merriam-Webster on essay

Nglish: Translation of essay for Spanish Speakers

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Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about essay

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