- a short literary composition on a particular theme or subject, usually in prose and generally analytic, speculative, or interpretative.
- anything resembling such a composition: a picture essay.
- an effort to perform or accomplish something; attempt.
- Philately. a design for a proposed stamp differing in any way from the design of the stamp as issued.
- Obsolete. a tentative effort; trial; assay.
- to try; attempt.
- to put to the test; make trial of.
Origin of essay
Examples from the Web for essay
The current attack on the Jews,” he wrote in a 1937 essay, “targets not just this people of 15 million but mankind as such.The Catholic Philosopher Who Took on Hitler
John Henry Crosby
December 26, 2014
Someone recently sent me an old Joan Didion essay on self-respect that appeared in Vogue.Daphne Merkin on Lena Dunham, Book Criticism, and Self-Examination
December 26, 2014
In “Barry,” an essay in Not That Kind of Girl, Dunham describes being sexually assaulted.
Nolte could not locate a “Barry” that fit the details listed in Dunham's essay.
Her own muddled feelings of confusion, shame, and fear are what make the essay great and what make the essay her story.
At last in desperation you embody it in a poem, an essay, a story.Ballads of a Bohemian
Robert W. Service
As might be expected in a first essay, the drawing is now over-minute, now too loose.The Man Shakespeare
This essay is quite as significant for what it has not said as for what it has said.Understanding the Scriptures
And if they essay to do so, why should not my word be at least as weighty as theirs?In the Valley
On his return, he wrote an essay on the subject, which was published in 1754.The Works of Whittier, Volume VII (of VII)
John Greenleaf Whittier
- a short literary composition dealing with a subject analytically or speculatively
- an attempt or endeavour; effort
- a test or trial
- to attempt or endeavour; try
- to test or try out
Word Origin and History for essay
1590s, "short non-fiction literary composition" (first attested in writings of Francis Bacon, probably in imitation of Montaigne), from Middle French essai "trial, attempt, essay," from Late Latin exagium "a weighing, weight," from Latin exigere "test," from ex- "out" (see ex-) + agere (see act) apparently meaning here "to weigh." The suggestion is of unpolished writing.