- 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
- 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 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.