To attempt is to make an effort. You may attempt to read a book, but if you fail, no harm. If you attempt to jump from one building to the next and fail . . . . Ouch.

The word attempt can also be used as a noun. It's an honest effort to do something. Your attempt to bake a birthday cake may look like a disaster, but the birthday boy will appreciate the effort anyway. The noun attempt can also mean an attack on a person or place, but in this case, it's best to hope that the attempt is not on your life. And never, ever attempt that sort of thing at home!

Primary Meanings of attempt

make an effort or attempt
earnest and conscientious activity intended to do or accomplish something
the act of attacking
Full Definitions of attempt

v make an effort or attempt

“The police attempted to stop the thief”
assay, essay, seek, try
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pick up the gauntlet, take a dare
be dared to do something and attempt it
fight, struggle
make a strenuous or labored effort
give it a try, have a go
make an attempt at something
search blindly or uncertainly
endeavor, endeavour, strive
attempt by employing effort
give it a try, give it a whirl
adventure, chance, gamble, hazard, risk, run a risk, take a chance, take chances
take a risk in the hope of a favorable outcome
lay on the line, put on the line, risk
expose to a chance of loss or damage
to exert strenuous effort against opposition
drive, labor, labour, push, tug
strive and make an effort to reach a goal
behave awkwardly; have difficulties
be at pains, take pains
try very hard to do something
to strive with determination
go for broke
risk everything in one big effort
luck it, luck through
act by relying on one's luck
adventure, hazard, jeopardize, stake, venture
put at risk
bell the cat
take a risk; perform a daring act
Type of:
act, move
perform an action, or work out or perform (an action)

v enter upon an activity or enterprise

set about, undertake
Type of:
initiate, pioneer
take the lead or initiative in; participate in the development of

n earnest and conscientious activity intended to do or accomplish something

effort, endeavor, endeavour, try
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(baseball) the batter's attempt to get on base
the supreme effort one can make
the weakest effort or poorest achievement one is capable of
bid, play
an attempt to get something
crack, fling, go, offer, pass, whirl
a usually brief attempt
a tentative attempt
an initial attempt (especially outside your usual areas of competence)
contribution, part, share
the part played by a person in bringing about a result
the attempt to achieve equal rights or status
mug's game
a futile or unprofitable endeavor
power play, squeeze, squeeze play
an aggressive attempt to compel acquiescence by the concentration or manipulation of power
an attempt to acquire or gain something
shot, stab
informal words for any attempt or effort
an attempt to score in a game
nisus, pains, strain, striving
an effortful attempt to attain a goal
battle, struggle
an energetic attempt to achieve something
takeover attempt
an attempt to take control of a corporation
run, test, trial
the act of testing something
test, trial
the act of undergoing testing
basketball shot
throwing the basketball toward the hoop
bear hug
a takeover bid so attractive that the directors of the target company must approve it or risk shareholder protest
proxy fight
a measure used by an acquirer to gain control of a takeover target; acquirer tries to persuade other shareholders that the management of the target should be replaced
the part you are expected to play
any struggle between two skillful opponents (individuals or groups)
scramble, scuffle
an unceremonious and disorganized struggle
a quantitative or qualitative test of a substance (especially an ore or a drug) to determine its components; frequently used to test for the presence or concentration of infectious agents or antibodies etc.
clinical test, clinical trial
a rigorously controlled test of a new drug or a new invasive medical device on human subjects; in the United States it is conducted under the direction of the FDA before being made available for general clinical use
double blind
a test procedure in which the identity of those receiving the intervention is concealed from both the administrators and the subjects until after the test is completed; designed to reduce or eliminate bias in the results
preclinical phase, preclinical test, preclinical trial
a laboratory test of a new drug or a new invasive medical device on animal subjects; conducted to gather evidence justifying a clinical trial
audition, tryout
a test of the suitability of a performer
field trial
a test of young hunting dogs to determine their skill in pointing and retrieving
fitting, try-on, trying on
putting clothes on to see whether they fit
MOT, MOT test, Ministry of Transportation test
a compulsory annual test of older motor vehicles for safety and exhaust fumes
pilot program, pilot project
activity planned as a test or trial
jehad, jihad
a holy struggle or striving by a Muslim for a moral or spiritual or political goal
a fast shot made with a short powerful swing of the hockey stick
an attempt to put the soccer ball into the net by using the head
Snellen test
a test of visual acuity using a Snellen chart
joust, tilt
a combat between two mounted knights tilting against each other with blunted lances
Type of:
any specific behavior

n the act of attacking

“they made an attempt on his life”
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a threatened or attempted physical attack by someone who appears to be able to cause bodily harm if not stopped
aggravated assault
a reckless attack with intent to injure seriously (as with a deadly weapon)
assault and battery, battery
an assault in which the assailant makes physical contact
assault with intent to rob
Type of:
crime, criminal offence, criminal offense, law-breaking, offence, offense
(criminal law) an act punishable by law; usually considered an evil act

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