Definitions

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

  • transitive verb To try to perform, make, or achieve.
  • transitive verb Archaic To tempt.
  • transitive verb Archaic To try to seize or get control of by attacking.
  • noun An effort or a try.
  • noun An attack; an assault.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A putting forth of effort in the performance or accomplishment of that which is difficult or uncertain; essay, trial, or endeavor; effort.
  • noun An effort to accomplish something by force or violence; an attack or assault: as, an attempt upon one's life.
  • noun Temptation.
  • noun In law, an act done in part execution of a design to commit a crime. Judge May.
  • To make an effort to effect or do; endeavor to perform; undertake; essay: as, to attempt a bold flight.
  • To venture upon: as, to attempt the sea.—
  • To make trial of; prove; test: as, “well-attempted plate,” Fairfax.
  • To try with afflictions. Jer. Taylor.
  • To endeavor to obtain or attract.
  • To try to win or seduce; tempt; entice.
  • To attack; make an effort against; assail: as, to attempt the enemy's camp; to attempt a person's life.
  • Synonyms Attempt, Essay, Undertake, Endeavor, Strive, Struggle, seek, aim. The italicized words agree in expressing the beginning of a task, physical or intellectual, which is difficult and often impossible. They are arranged in the order of strength. Attempt is to try with some effort. Essay is sometimes to try in order to see if a thing can be done or attained, and sometimes simply to attempt: as, “which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned,” Heb. xi. 29. Undertake is, literally, to take a task upon one's self, perhaps formally, and hence to go about a task with care and effort. Endeavor is to try with more earnestness, labor, or exertion. Strive is to work hard and earnestly, doing one's best. Struggle is to tax one's powers to the extent of fatigue, pain, or exhaustion. The first three words are more appropriate for a single effort, the other three for continuous or continual efforts.

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

  • transitive verb To make trial or experiment of; to try; to endeavor to do or perform (some action); to assay
  • transitive verb Obs. or Archaic To try to move, by entreaty, by afflictions, or by temptations; to tempt.
  • transitive verb To try to win, subdue, or overcome.
  • transitive verb To attack; to make an effort or attack upon; to try to take by force.
  • noun A essay, trial, or endeavor; an undertaking; an attack, or an effort to gain a point; esp. an unsuccessful, as contrasted with a successful, effort.
  • noun (Law) such an intentional preparatory act as will apparently result, if not extrinsically hindered, in a crime which it was designed to effect.
  • intransitive verb obsolete To make an attempt; -- with upon.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb To try.

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

  • verb make an effort or attempt
  • noun earnest and conscientious activity intended to do or accomplish something
  • noun the act of attacking
  • verb enter upon an activity or enterprise

Etymologies

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

[Middle English attempten, from Old French attempter, from Latin attemptāre : ad-, ad- + temptāre, to test.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Late 14th century, from Old French atempter, from Latin attemptō ("I try, solicit"), from ad ("to") + temptare, more correctly tentare ("to try"); see tempt. The noun is from the 1530s, the sense "an assault on somebody's life, assassination attempt" (French attentat) is from 1580.

Examples

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