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 ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
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