Es"say (?), 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. 'exa`gion a weight, 'exagia`zein to examine, 'exa`gein to drive out, export. See Agent, and cf. Exact, Examine, Assay.]


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.


An assay. See Assay, n.


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


© Webster 1913.

Es*say" (?), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Essayed (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Essaying.] [F. essayer. See Essay, n.]


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.


To test the value and purity of (metals); to assay. See Assay.




© Webster 1913.