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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle French essai.



essay (plural essays)

  1. A written composition of moderate length, exploring a particular issue or subject.
    • 2013 January 1, Katie L. Burke, “Ecological Dependency”, in American Scientist[1], volume 101, number 1, page 64:
      In his first book since the 2008 essay collection Natural Acts: A Sidelong View of Science and Nature, David Quammen looks at the natural world from yet another angle: the search for the next human pandemic, what epidemiologists call “the next big one.”
  2. (obsolete) A test, experiment; an assay.
  3. (now rare) An attempt.
    • 1988, James McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom, Oxford 2003, p. 455:
      This was Lee's first essay in the kind of offensive-defensive strategy that was to become his hallmark.
Derived terms[edit]
Related terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle French essayer.



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

  1. (dated, transitive) To try.
    • 1900, Charles W. Chesnutt, chapter II, in The House Behind the Cedars:
      He retraced his steps to the front gate, which he essayed to open.
  2. (intransitive) To move forth, as into battle.