Dictionary > English Dictionary > Definition, synonym and antonym of essay
Meaning of essay by Wiktionary Dictionary



    • Rhymes: -ɛseɪ


    From Middle French essai .


    essay ( plural: essays )

    1. A written composition of moderate length exploring a particular issue or subject .
    2. ( obsolete ) A test, experiment; an assay .
    3. ( now rare ) An attempt.

    Derived terms

    Related terms


    essay ( third-person singular simple present essays present participle essaying, simple past and past participle essayed )

    1. ( dated, transitive ) To try.
    2. ( intransitive ) To move forth, as into battle .


Explanation of essay by Wordnet Dictionary


    1. make an effort or attempt

    2. The infant had essayed a few wobbly steps
    3. put to the test, as for its quality, or give experimental use to

    1. a tentative attempt

    2. an analytic or interpretive literary composition

    Definition of essay by GCIDE Dictionary


    1. Essay n.; pl. Essays [F. essai, fr. L. exagium a weighing, weight, balance; ex out + agere to drive, do; cf. examen, exagmen, a means of weighing, a weighing, the tongue of a balance, exigere to drive out, examine, weigh, Gr. ἐξάγιον a weight, ἐξαγιάζειν to examine, ἐξάγειν to drive out, export. See Agent, and cf. Exact, Examine, Assay.]
      1. An effort made, or exertion of body or mind, for the performance of anything; a trial; attempt; as, “to make an essay to benefit a friend”. “The essay at organization.” M. Arnold.

      2. ( Lit. ) A composition treating of any particular subject; -- usually shorter and less methodical than a formal, finished treatise; as, “an essay on the life and writings of Homer; an essay on fossils, or on commerce.”

      3. An assay. See Assay, n. [Obs.]

      Syn. -- Attempt; trial; endeavor; effort; tract; treatise; dissertation; disquisition.

    2. Essay v. t. [imp. & p. p. Essayed ; p. pr. & vb. n. Essaying.] [F. essayer. See Essay, n.]
      1. To exert one's power or faculties upon; to make an effort to perform; to attempt; to endeavor; to make experiment or trial of; to try.

      What marvel if I thus essay to sing? Byron.

      Essaying nothing she can not perform. Emerson.

      A danger lest the young enthusiast . . . should essay the impossible. J. C. Shairp.

      2. To test the value and purity of ( metals ); to assay. See Assay. [Obs.] Locke.