verb (used with object)

to make an effort at; try; undertake; seek: to attempt an impossible task; to attempt to walk six miles.
Archaic. to attack; move against in a hostile manner: to attempt a person's life.
Archaic. to tempt.


an effort made to accomplish something: He made an attempt to swim across the lake.
an attack or assault: an attempt upon the leader's life.

Origin of attempt

1350–1400; Middle English < Anglo-French atempter < Latin attemptāre to test, tamper with. See at-, tempt
Related formsat·tempt·a·bil·i·ty, nounat·tempt·a·ble, adjectiveat·tempt·er, nounqua·si-at·tempt, verbre·at·tempt, verb (used with object)un·at·tempt·a·ble, adjectiveun·at·tempt·ed, adjectiveun·at·tempt·ing, adjectivewell-at·tempt·ed, adjective

Synonyms for attempt

1. See try. 4. try, endeavor. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for attempting

Contemporary Examples of attempting

Historical Examples of attempting

  • Hester crept gently towards it, and Amy after her, not attempting to stop her.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • Taking Misargyrides' arm and attempting to steer him off-stage.

    The Dramatic Values in Plautus

    Wilton Wallace Blancke

  • One gains nothing by attempting to shut out the sprites of the weather.

    Yankee Gypsies

    John Greenleaf Whittier

  • Then it dawned on Drumsheugh that the doctor was attempting the Highland fling.

  • I have told you already, so don't fly in the face of Providence by attempting to deny it!'

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

British Dictionary definitions for attempting


verb (tr)

to make an effort (to do something) or to achieve (something); try
to try to surmount (an obstacle)
to try to climbthey will attempt the north wall of the Eiger
archaic to attack
archaic to tempt


an endeavour to achieve something; effort
a result of an attempt or endeavour
an attack, esp with the intention to killan attempt on his life
Derived Formsattemptable, adjectiveattempter, noun

Word Origin for attempt

C14: from Old French attempter, from Latin attemptāre to strive after, from tentāre to try


Attempt should not be used in the passive when followed by an infinitive: attempts were made to find a solution (not a solution was attempted to be found)
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

Word Origin and History for attempting



late 14c., from Old French attempter (14c.), earlier atenter "to try, attempt, test," from Latin attemptare "to try" (cf. Italian attentare, Old Provençal, Portuguese attentar, Spanish atentar), from ad- "to, upon" (see ad-) + temptare "to try" (see tempt). Related: Attempted; attempting.



1530s, from attempt (v.). Meaning "effort to accomplish something by violence" is from 1580s, especially as an assault on someone's life.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper