Definition of attempt in English:

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Pronunciation: /əˈtem(p)t/


[with object]
1Make an effort to achieve or complete (something, typically a difficult task or action): she attempted a comeback in 1989 [with infinitive]: those who attempted to flee were captured at the border
More example sentences
  • Trying to cement her position she pushes the team into attempting an exceptionally difficult human pyramid move.
  • That's when she was forced to attempt the most difficult vault of the competition over a kneeling horse.
  • The purpose of this article is to attempt the difficult task of trying to describe how the Indians developed this ingenious system.
try, strive, aim, venture, endeavor, seek, undertake, make an effort;
have a go at, try one's hand at
informal go all out, bend over backwards, bust a gut, hazard
formal essay
archaic assay
1.1Try to climb to the top of (a mountain): the group’s next plan was to attempt Everest
More example sentences
  • These expeditions were the only ones to receive permission to attempt Everest from either Nepal or Tibet until the Swiss Foundation for Alpine Research was granted permission from Nepal for two expeditions in 1952.
  • Avoiding this decision is why so many who have attempted Everest's peak have perished.
  • And in 2005, Robert and Edwin attempted Everest without oxygen, beaten back only by gale-force wind on summit day, despite feeling strong and fit.
1.2 archaic Try to take (a life): he would not have attempted the life of a friend


1An act of trying to achieve something, typically one that is unsuccessful or not certain to succeed: [with infinitive]: an attempt to halt the bombings any attempt at talking politics ended in a fit of laughter an abortive coup attempt
More example sentences
  • I passed my motorcycle test at the first attempt at the age of 17.
  • I refuse to talk about my abortive attempt at qualifying for the Hanley Cup lest I depress myself even more.
  • I was fortunate enough to undergo successful IVF treatment at the first attempt, resulting in the birth of twin daughters.
effort, endeavor, try, venture, trial
informal crack, go, bid, shot, stab
formal essay
archaic assay
1.1An effort to surpass a record or conquer a mountain: we made an attempt on the southwest buttress
More example sentences
  • He now says that his attempt on the world record will be put back at least a couple of months while he attempts to overcome the problem with the compressed air.
  • The attempt on the single-handed record could be a two-trimaran race.
  • He had to postpone a previous attempt on the record at Elvington because of technical problems.
1.2A bid to kill someone: Karakozov made an attempt on the tsar’s life
More example sentences
  • But critics point out that John Paul II was not killed by the attempt on his life, as the text foretold.
  • This was no easy task and several attempts were made on his life by chieftains who feared that he was going to take their kingdoms.
1.3A thing produced as a result of trying to make or achieve something: her first attempt at a letter ended up in the wastebasket
More example sentences
  • As I wait for the next workshop image, I write this article as my first attempt at humor.
  • Sue designed the website herself and for a first attempt at web design it is an ambitious project!
  • Here's my attempt at re-creating a salad from some Italian joint on The Hill back in St. Louis.


Late Middle English: from Old French attempter, from Latin attemptare, from ad- 'to' + temptare 'to tempt'.

  • tempt from Middle English:

    Tempt goes back to Latin temptare ‘to test, try’, which is the sense in the expression tempt Providence. To be unwise enough to test Providence, or your luck, is to invite misfortune. In the Middle Ages temptation was particularly used in relation to the biblical story, in the Gospel of Matthew, of Jesus being tempted to sin by the Devil when he spent 40 days in the wilderness. Modern temptations are generally more trivial urges to indulge yourself. In 1892 Oscar Wilde wrote: ‘I can resist everything except temptation’ (Lady Windermere's Fan). Attempt (Late Middle English) is from the same root.

Words that rhyme with attempt

contempt, dreamt, exempt, kempt, pre-empt, tempt

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: at·tempt

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