from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Qualitative or quantitative analysis of a metal or ore to determine its components.
  • n. A substance to be so analyzed.
  • n. The result of such an analysis.
  • n. An analysis or examination.
  • n. A bioassay.
  • n. Archaic An attempt; an essay.
  • transitive v. To subject (a metal, for example) to chemical analysis so as to determine the strength or quality of its components.
  • transitive v. To bioassay.
  • transitive v. To examine by trial or experiment; put to a test: assay one's ability to speak Chinese.
  • transitive v. To evaluate; assess: assayed the situation before taking action. See Synonyms at estimate.
  • transitive v. To attempt; try.
  • intransitive v. To be shown by analysis to contain a certain proportion of usually precious metal.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. trial, attempt, essay.
  • n. the qualitative or quantitative chemical analysis of something

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Trial; attempt; essay.
  • n. Examination and determination; test.
  • n. Trial by danger or by affliction; adventure; risk; hardship; state of being tried.
  • n. Tested purity or value.
  • n. The act or process of ascertaining the proportion of a particular metal in an ore or alloy; especially, the determination of the proportion of gold or silver in bullion or coin.
  • n. The alloy or metal to be assayed.
  • intransitive v. To attempt, try, or endeavor.
  • transitive v. To try; to attempt; to apply.
  • transitive v. To affect.
  • transitive v. To try tasting, as food or drink.
  • transitive v. To subject, as an ore, alloy, or other metallic compound, to chemical or metallurgical examination, in order to determine the amount of a particular metal contained in it, or to ascertain its composition.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To examine by trial; put to test or trial; try the effect or merit of: as, to assay armor.
  • Specifically To make trial of or analyze, as an ore or metallic compound, with the view of determining the proportion of a particular metal present in it.
  • To attempt; endeavor; essay: often with an infinitive as object.
  • To endeavor to influence.
  • To affect; move.
  • To make an attempt or endeavor; try.
  • n. Examination; trial; attempt; essay.
  • n. Hence Trial by danger; risk; adventure.
  • n. Trial; tribulation; affiiction.
  • n. The trial of the purity, weight, etc., of metals or metallic substances, as ores and alloys; any operation or experiment for ascertaining the quantity of a precious metal in an ore or a mineral, or in coin or bullion. See assaying.
  • n. The substance to be assayed. Ure.
  • n. In law, an examination of weights and measures by the standard. Cowell.
  • n. Formerly, the act or custom of tasting the food or drink intended for another, as a king, before presenting it.
  • n. Value; ascertained purity: as, “stones of rich assay,”

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a substance that is undergoing an analysis of its components
  • v. make an effort or attempt
  • n. a written report of the results of an analysis of the composition of some substance
  • v. analyze (chemical substances)
  • n. a quantitative or qualitative test of a substance (especially an ore or a drug) to determine its components; frequently used to test for the presence or concentration of infectious agents or antibodies etc.
  • n. an appraisal of the state of affairs


Middle English, from Old French essai, assai; see essay.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Anglo-Norman assaier, from assai, from Old French essai. (Wiktionary)


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