[ uh-ses ]
See synonyms for assess on
verb (used with object)
  1. to estimate officially the value of (property, income, etc.) as a basis for taxation.

  2. to fix or determine the amount of (damages, a tax, a fine, etc.): The hurricane damage was assessed at six million dollars.

  1. to impose a tax or other charge on.

  2. to estimate or judge the value, character, etc., of; evaluate: to assess one's efforts.

Origin of assess

First recorded in 1400–50; late Middle English assessen, from Old French assesser, fromMedieval Latin assessāre “to assess a tax,” derivative of Latin assessus “seated beside (a judge)” (past participle of assidēre ), equivalent to as- “toward” + sed- (stem of sedēre “to sit”) + -tus past participle suffix; see as-, sit1

word story For assess

Assess comes from Middle English assessen, from Old French assesser, from Late Latin assessāre “to fix a tax on.” Assessāre is a Late Latin frequentative verb derived from assess-, the inflectional stem of the past participle assessus, from the Latin verb assidēre “to sit next to or by (as an assistant, attendant, or aide),” formed from the preposition and prefix ad, ad-, here having the sense “nearness, presence at,” and -sidēre, a combining form of the verb sedēre “to sit, be seated.”
In Proto-Indo-European, two dental consonants (such as d + d, d + t, t + t, etc.) could not appear together. In the Italic languages (Latin, Oscan, Umbrian) and Germanic, the two dental consonants developed into -ss- ; thus the original Latin past participle of sedēre , sedtus (originally an adjective suffix, typically forming past participles in Latin) regularly became sessus, the base for the Late Latin verb assessāre.

Other words for assess

Other words from assess

  • as·sess·a·ble, adjective
  • o·ver·as·sess, verb (used with object)
  • re·as·sess, verb (used with object)
  • un·as·sess·a·ble, adjective
  • un·as·sessed, adjective
  • well-as·sessed, adjective

Words that may be confused with assess

Words Nearby assess Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use assess in a sentence

  • Who is to assess values on an estate that consists of shipping interests, lands, mines, and a host of other things?

    The Everlasting Arms | Joseph Hocking
  • We get an alert when anyone with an uncommon ride profile comes out and that helps us assess whether we want to investigate.

    Little Brother | Cory Doctorow
  • Then the author proceeds to assess the social and ethical conditions which threaten the world with spiritual bankruptcy.

    When Winter Comes to Main Street | Grant Martin Overton
  • "Well, what rate do you intend to assess," asked Nekhludoff.

    The Awakening | Leo Nikoleyevich Tolstoy
  • In their perplexity they referred to Dominico, who, though ill of the gout, drove to see the picture and assess its value.

British Dictionary definitions for assess


/ (əˈsɛs) /

  1. to judge the worth, importance, etc, of; evaluate

  2. (foll by at) to estimate the value of (income, property, etc) for taxation purposes: the estate was assessed at three thousand pounds

  1. to determine the amount of (a fine, tax, damages, etc)

  2. to impose a tax, fine, etc, on (a person or property)

Origin of assess

C15: from Old French assesser, from Latin assidēre to sit beside, from sedēre to sit

Derived forms of assess

  • assessable, adjective

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