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Definition of essay

 (Entry 1 of 2)

Definition of essay  (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

  • composition

attempt , try , endeavor , essay , strive mean to make an effort to accomplish an end.

attempt stresses the initiation or beginning of an effort.

try is often close to attempt but may stress effort or experiment made in the hope of testing or proving something.

endeavor heightens the implications of exertion and difficulty.

essay implies difficulty but also suggests tentative trying or experimenting.

strive implies great exertion against great difficulty and specifically suggests persistent effort.

Examples of essay in a Sentence

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'essay.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Middle French essai , ultimately from Late Latin exagium act of weighing, from Latin ex- + agere to drive — more at agent

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Phrases Containing essay

  • essay question
  • photo - essay

Articles Related to essay

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To 'Essay' or 'Assay'?

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Dictionary Entries Near essay

Cite this entry.

“Essay.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary , Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/essay. Accessed 4 Jan. 2024.

Kids Definition

Kids definition of essay.

Kids Definition of essay  (Entry 2 of 2)

More from Merriam-Webster on 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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es•say

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Cambridge Dictionary

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Meaning of essay in English

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  • I want to finish off this essay before I go to bed .
  • His essay was full of spelling errors .
  • Have you given that essay in yet ?
  • Have you handed in your history essay yet ?
  • I'd like to discuss the first point in your essay.
  • boilerplate
  • composition
  • dissertation
  • essay question
  • peer review
  • go for it idiom
  • go out of your way idiom
  • go the extra mile idiom
  • go to great lengths idiom
  • God helps those who help themselves idiom
  • step on the gas idiom
  • stick at something
  • stick to something
  • stick-to-itiveness
  • strain after/for effect idiom

essay | Intermediate English

Examples of essay, collocations with essay.

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Translations of essay

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COMMENTS

  1. Essayed Definition & Meaning

    es· say ˈe-ˌsā senses 2, 3 & 4 also e-ˈsā Synonyms of essay 1 a : 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 2 a : effort, attempt especially : an initial tentative effort b

  2. ESSAYED

    verb [ T ] old-fashioned uk / eˈseɪ / us / eˈseɪ / to try to do something: The procedure was first essayed in 1923. SMART Vocabulary: related words and phrases Trying and making an effort A game all out assault attempt attempted bid commitment crack go for it idiom go for someone go out of your way idiom go the extra mile idiom

  3. Essayed

    1. To make an attempt at; try. 2. To subject to a test. [French essai, trial, attempt, from Old French, from essayer, to attempt, from Vulgar Latin *exagiāre, to weigh out, from Late Latin exagium, a weighing : Latin ex-, ex- + Latin agere, to drive; see ag- in Indo-European roots.

  4. ESSAY

    a short piece of writing on a particular subject, often expressing personal views In a school test, an essay is a written answer that includes information and discussion, usually to test how well the student understands the subject. (Definition of essay from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press) Examples of essay

  5. ESSAY

    a short piece of writing on a particular subject, often expressing personal views In a school test, an essay is a written answer that includes information and discussion, usually to test how well the student understands the subject. (Definition of essay from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press) Examples of essay