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[verb a-sey; noun as-ey, a-sey] /verb æˈseɪ; noun ˈæs eɪ, æˈseɪ/
verb (used with object)
to examine or analyze:
to assay a situation; to assay an event.
Metallurgy. to analyze (an ore, alloy, etc.) in order to determine the quantity of gold, silver, or other metal in it.
Pharmacology. to subject (a drug) to an analysis for the determination of its potency or composition.
to judge the quality of; assess; evaluate:
to assay someone's efforts.
to try or test; put to trial:
to assay one's strength; to assay one's debating abilities.
to attempt; try; essay:
to assay a dance step.
verb (used without object)
to contain, as shown by analysis, a certain proportion of usually precious metal.
Metallurgy. determination of the amount of metal, especially gold or silver, in an ore, alloy, etc.
a substance undergoing analysis or trial.
a detailed report of the findings in assaying a substance.
Archaic. examination; trial; attempt; essay.
Origin of assay
1250-1300; Middle English < Middle French; variant of essay
Related forms
assayable, adjective
assayer, noun
unassayed, adjective
unassaying, adjective
Can be confused
assay, essay. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for assayers


verb (əˈseɪ)
to subject (a substance, such as silver or gold) to chemical analysis, as in the determination of the amount of impurity
(transitive) to attempt (something or to do something)
(transitive; may take a clause as object) to test, analyse, or evaluate: to assay the significance of early childhood experience
noun (əˈseɪ; ˈæseɪ)
  1. an analysis, esp a determination of the amount of metal in an ore or the amounts of impurities in a precious metal
  2. (as modifier): an assay office
a substance undergoing an analysis
a written report on the results of an analysis
a test
(archaic) an attempt
Derived Forms
assayable, adjective
assayer, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old Northern French assai; see essay
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for assayers



c.1300, "to try, endeavor, strive; test the quality of," from Anglo-French assaier, from assai (n.), from Old French essai "trial" (see essay).



"trial, test of quality, test of character," mid-14c., from Anglo-French assai (see assay (v.)). Meaning "analysis" is from late 14c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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assayers in Medicine

assay as·say (ās'ā', ā-sā')

  1. Qualitative or quantitative analysis of a substance, especially of an ore or a drug, to determine its components.

  2. A substance to be so analyzed.

  3. The result of such an analysis.

  4. An analysis or examination.

v. as·sayed, as·say·ing, as·says (ā-sā', ās'ā')
  1. To subject a substance to chemical analysis.

  2. To examine a person's capability by trial or experiment; put to a test.

  3. To evaluate a situation; assess.

  4. To attempt; try.

  5. To be shown by analysis to contain a certain proportion of atoms, molecules, compounds, or precious metal.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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assayers in Science
  (ās'ā, ə-sā')   
  1. A quantitative determination of the amount of a given substance in a particular sample. Assays are regularly used to determine the purity of precious metals. They can be performed by wet methods or dry methods. In the wet method, the sample is dissolved in a reagent, like an acid, until the purified metal is separated out. In the dry method, the sample is mixed with a flux (a substance such as borax or silica that helps lower the melting temperature) and then heated to the point where impurities in the metal fuse with the flux, leaving the purified metal as a residue.

  2. A bioassay.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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