from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Qualitative or quantitative analysis of a metal or ore to determine its components.
  • noun A substance to be so analyzed.
  • noun The result of such an analysis.
  • noun A bioassay.
  • noun An analysis or examination.
  • noun Archaic An attempt; an essay.
  • intransitive verb To subject (a metal, for example) to chemical analysis so as to determine the strength or quality of its components.
  • intransitive verb To bioassay.
  • intransitive verb To examine by trial or experiment; put to a test.
  • intransitive verb To evaluate; assess.
  • intransitive verb To attempt; try.
  • intransitive verb To be shown by analysis to contain a certain proportion of usually precious metal.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • 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.
  • noun Examination; trial; attempt; essay.
  • noun Hence Trial by danger; risk; adventure.
  • noun Trial; tribulation; affiiction.
  • noun 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.
  • noun The substance to be assayed. Ure.
  • noun In law, an examination of weights and measures by the standard. Cowell.
  • noun Formerly, the act or custom of tasting the food or drink intended for another, as a king, before presenting it.
  • noun Value; ascertained purity: as, “stones of rich assay,”

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • intransitive verb Archaic. In this sense essay is now commonly used. To attempt, try, or endeavor.
  • noun obsolete Trial; attempt; essay.
  • noun obsolete Examination and determination; test.
  • noun obsolete Trial by danger or by affliction; adventure; risk; hardship; state of being tried.
  • noun obsolete Tested purity or value.
  • noun (Metallurgy) 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.
  • noun The alloy or metal to be assayed.
  • noun an officer who assays or tests gold or silver coin or bullion.
  • noun a weight of 29,1662/3 grams.
  • transitive verb Obs. or Archaic To try; to attempt; to apply.
  • transitive verb obsolete To affect.
  • transitive verb obsolete To try tasting, as food or drink.
  • transitive verb 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 Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

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

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

  • noun a substance that is undergoing an analysis of its components
  • verb make an effort or attempt
  • noun a written report of the results of an analysis of the composition of some substance
  • verb analyze (chemical substances)
  • noun 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.
  • noun an appraisal of the state of affairs


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

[Middle English, from Old French essai, assai; see essay.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Anglo-Norman assaier, from assai, from Old French essai.


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  • I. ii.18 (375,1) By no assay of reason] Bring it to the _test_, examine it by reason as we examine metals by the _assay_, it will be found counterfeit by all trials.

    Notes to Shakespeare, Volume III: The Tragedies Samuel Johnson 1746

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  • The seven participants tested so far breathe for ten minutes into a commercially available handheld device, which cools the air, forming a condensed vapor, to which the methylation assay is applied.

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  • Essayer is the French verb meaning "to try" (the cousin of our word assay), and an "essai" is an effort.

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  • The word assay has appeared in two New York Times articles in the past year, including on Dec. 14, 2009, in Flies Get Tipsy and Aid the

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  • The aim of this study was to assess if the use of a longer term assay and the analysis of multiple cytokines would enhance diagnosis of active TB in a

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  • Thrice he the sword assay'd, and thrice the flood;

    The Aeneid English 70 BC-19 BC Virgil

  • Thrice he the sword assay’d, and thrice the flood;

    The Tenth Book of the Aeneis Vergil 1909


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