attempt


attempt
attempt vb Attempt, try, endeavor, essay, strive, struggle as verbs mean to make an effort to do something that may or may not be successful and as nouns (the single exception in form being striving) mean the effort made to accomplish such an end.
Attempt implies an actual beginning of or venturing upon something that one hopes to accomplish or carry through and often suggests failure
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formed a plan and yet made no attempt to execute it

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the troops were driven back when they attempted to break through the enemy’s line

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after many attempts to construct a flying machine the Wright brothers succeeded

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nothing attempted, nothing gained

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here Shakespeare tackled a problem which proved too much for him. Why he attempted it at all is an insoluble puzzle— T. S. Eliot

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Try is often thought of as a simpler equivalent of attempt; in discriminating use, however, the two terms are distinguishable by subtle differences in meaning. Try seldom loses the implication of effort or experiment directed toward the end of ascertaining a fact or of testing or proving a thing. This implication is especially apparent in some idiomatic phrases; thus, one tries a window by attempting to open it so as to find out if it is fastened; one tries one’s hand at something by attempting to do something new to test one’s ability or aptitude; one tries one’s luck with the horses by betting on horse races in the hope of proving one’s luck. Try is the word of choice when effort or experiment or testing are stressed rather then a venturing upon or undertaking
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try to find which of two methods is the better

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make a try at solving the problem

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succeed at the first try

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freedom in thought, the liberty to try and err, the right to be his own man— Mencken

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Endeavor heightens the implication of exertion and should be avoided as too strong when likelihood of success is implied. It often connotes a striving to fulfill a duty or obey a sense of fitness
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she walked up and down the room endeavoring to compose herself— Austen

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the Good, which is the goal of all moral endeavorlnge

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in Arnold’s phrases the first step for every aspirant to culture is to endeavor to see things as they are, or “to learn, in short, the will of God’’— Eliot

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we all endeavor, as Spinoza says, to persist in our own being; and that endeavor is, he adds, the very essence of our existence— L. P. Smith

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Essay implies that the thing to be accomplished is especially difficult; otherwise it combines the foremost implications of attempt (that is, making a beginning) by suggesting a tentative effort and of try (that is, experiment) by suggesting the testing of a thing’s feasibility
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sculpture which attempted to unite repose and action, the “far off’ and the familiar, in a way which Phidias and Donatello were too prudent to essayBrownell

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conventions frequently take their rise . . . from the faulty essays of an early and as yet undeveloped technique— Lowes

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The last terms of this group, strive and struggle, not only carry heightened implications of difficulty and of correspondingly greater exertion, but also connote greater opposition to be overcome. Strive and striving suggest persistent endeavor to surmount obstacles created by one’s weaknesses, one’s lack of experience, the height of one’s ambitions, or the power of resisting forces
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strive to overcome a bad habit

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a striving to reach the top of his class

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striving to come out of the filth, the flies, the poverty— Anderson

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sick of self and tired of vainly strivingJames

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the bitter, desperate striving unto death of the oppressed race— Rose Macaulay

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Struggle literally and figuratively implies straining or stretching that suggests a tussle, a wrestling, or an effort to extricate oneself from what impedes or fetters
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struggled to free himself from his attackers

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a struggle to reach the shore

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So strong at times is this implication that the word loses or nearly loses its implication of endeavor
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he clambered over half-visible rocks, fell over prostrate trees, sank into deep holes and struggled out— Cather

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the struggle between two strong-willed women to control one weak-willed man is the usual motive of the French drama in the nineteenth century— Henry Adams

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Analogous words: *begin, commence, start, initiate, inaugurate
Antonyms: succeed
Contrasted words: accomplish, achieve, effect, fulfill, execute, *perform: attain, compass, *reach, gain
attempt n endeavor, essay, try, striving, struggle (see under ATTEMPT vb)
Analogous words: trial, test (see under PROVE): beginning, commencement, starting or start, initiation (see corresponding verbs at BEGIN)

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • attempt — at·tempt n: the crime of having the intent to commit and taking action in an effort to commit a crime that fails or is prevented – called also criminal attempt; see also impossibility ◇ There is no settled answer to how close to completing a… …   Law dictionary

  • Attempt — At*tempt , n. A essay, trial, or endeavor; an undertaking; an attack, or an effort to gain a point; esp. an unsuccessful, as contrasted with a successful, effort. [1913 Webster] By his blindness maimed for high attempts. Milton. [1913 Webster]… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Attempt — At*tempt (?; 215), v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Attempted}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Attempting}.] [OF. atenter, also spelt atempter, F. attenter, fr. L. attentare to attempt; ad + tentare, temptare, to touch, try, v. intens. of tendere to stretch. See {Tempt},… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Attempt — At*tempt , v. i. To make an attempt; with upon. [Obs.] Sir T. Browne. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • attempt — [n] try, effort all one’s got*, attack, bid*, crack*, dry run*, endeavor, exertion, experiment, fling, go, header*, lick*, one’s all, one’s darnedest*, one’s level best*, pursuit, shot, stab, striving, struggle, trial, try, tryout, undertaking,… …   New thesaurus

  • attempt — [ə tempt′] vt. [ME attempten < OFr attempter < L attemptare, to try, solicit < ad , to + temptare, to try: see TEMPT] 1. to make an effort to do, get, have, etc.; try; endeavor 2. Archaic to tempt n. 1. a try 2. an attack, as on a person …   English World dictionary

  • attempt — ► VERB ▪ make an effort to achieve or complete (something). ► NOUN ▪ an act of attempting. ORIGIN Latin attemptare, from temptare to tempt …   English terms dictionary

  • attempt — {{Roman}}I.{{/Roman}} noun ADJECTIVE ▪ successful ▪ abortive, botched, failed, fruitless, futile, ill fated, misguided, unsuccessful …   Collocations dictionary

  • Attempt — This article is about the crime of attempt. For other uses, see wikt:attempt …   Wikipedia

  • attempt — I n. 1) to make an attempt 2) to foil, thwart an attempt 3) an abortive, fruitless, futile, vain; all out, concerted, last ditch; bold, brazen, daring; crude; deliberate; feeble, halfhearted, weak; first; premature; successful attempt; repeated… …   Combinatory dictionary


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