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!

Definitions of attempt
  1. verb
    make an effort or attempt
    “The police attempted to stop the thief”
    synonyms: assay, essay, seek, try
    see moresee less
    show 17 types...
    hide 17 types...
    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
    strive, struggle
    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)
  2. verb
    enter upon an activity or enterprise
    synonyms: set about, undertake
    see moresee less
    type of:
    initiate, pioneer
    take the lead or initiative in; participate in the development of
  3. noun
    earnest and conscientious activity intended to do or accomplish something
    synonyms: effort, endeavor, endeavour, try
    see moresee less
    show 39 types...
    hide 39 types...
    (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
  4. noun
    the act of attacking
    “they made an attempt on his life”
    synonyms: attack
    see moresee less
    show 4 types...
    hide 4 types...
    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
Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week