[ 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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use assess in a sentence

  • Urban property and lands were assessed at values far beyond those at which the owners truly estimated them.

    The Philippine Islands | John Foreman
  • The local banker took up a collection to pay my fine in case a fine should be assessed against me.

    The Iron Puddler | James J. Davis
  • When the owner is rated he must be assessed upon a certain proportion only of the net annual value of the premises.

  • The injury done is the only proper measure of the punishment to be inflicted, as well as of the damage to be assessed.

  • All landholders were to be assessed in proportion to their property, and the tax, if not voluntarily paid, collected by force.

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