- 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 essays
There are also essays on Jean Rys, Sylvia Plath, the Brontës, and Henry Roth.Daphne Merkin on Lena Dunham, Book Criticism, and Self-Examination
December 26, 2014
I would be happy to see books of essays that have the benefit of multiple drafts and editors.
If these essays, like all essays, are a form of trying, Daum incites her readers to try, too.
People in the comments section were complaining about the length of one of these essays that ran in The New Yorker.
And then a lot of these essays are appearing on the internet, and many of these personal essays are by women.
Very wise are these essays, but their wisdom is not altogether that of this world.The Works of Whittier, Volume VII (of VII)
John Greenleaf Whittier
Sympathizers with McClellan's essays on military or on other matters!Diary from November 12, 1862, to October 18, 1863
This is not to say that I claim success in the essays that follow.The Historical Nights' Entertainment
In this duty lies my excuse for the publication of these essays.On the Relations of Man to the Lower Animals
Thomas H. Huxley
Thus, in one way or another, almost all these essays have a value.
- 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 essays
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.