es·say (ĕsā′, ĕ-sā)
a. A short literary composition on a single subject, usually presenting the personal view of the author.
b. Something resembling such a composition: a photojournalistic essay.
2. A testing or trial of the value or nature of a thing: an essay of the students' capabilities.
3. An initial attempt or endeavor, especially a tentative attempt.
tr.v. (ĕ-sā, ĕsā′) es·sayed, es·say·ing, es·says
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 the Appendix of Indo-European roots. V., from Middle English assaien, from Old French assaer, assaier, variant of essayer.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.
American Heritage Dictionary Products
The American Heritage Dictionary, 5th Edition
The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms
The American Heritage Roget's Thesaurus
Curious George's Dictionary
The American Heritage Children's Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
The American Heritage Student Grammar Dictionary
The American Heritage Desk Dictionary + Thesaurus
The American Heritage Science Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms
The American Heritage Student Dictionary
The American Heritage Essential Student Thesaurus