Definition of essay in US English:

essay

noun

Pronunciation /ˈesā//ˈɛseɪ/
  • 1A short piece of writing on a particular subject.

    • ‘He has published essays, reviews and short stories in a number of journals and anthologies and is currently at work on a novel.’
    • ‘Both his poetry from 1926 on and his essays in literary criticism attest to his spiritual independence.’
    • ‘Previously, he had published travel essays and short stories, but he turned to writing novels.’
    • ‘In writing essays, I only follow one rule, which is that all the information is independently verifiable.’
    • ‘That might be the inevitable price of writing short essays.’
    • ‘Although he lacked a good radio voice, he excelled at writing short but incisive essays that captured a radio audience unused to such quality in a news broadcast.’
    • ‘He's since written many novels, and essays, and short stories.’
    • ‘Apart from the novels, Sundara Ramaswamy has written several short stories and essays on literary criticism.’
    • ‘I went on to publish essays, short stories, poetry, and political commentaries.’
    • ‘Each section centers around a theme and is introduced with a short essay by one of the editors.’
    • ‘However, he continued to write poems, short stories, essays, and novels when he found time.’
    • ‘He began writing plays, essays, short stories and then film scripts declaring that he planned to devote his life to art as a force for social change.’
    • ‘During the years that followed, Hurston wrote novels, essays, articles, and plays.’
    • ‘Quentin Williams makes this point in a perceptive essay on painting and photography.’
    • ‘I won an award for a poem, and consistently scored really well for essays, short stories and other English stuff in high school.’
    • ‘The editors encouraged all forms of literary submissions from poetry and essays to short stories and serialized novels.’
    • ‘For example, my first published piece was a nonfiction essay in MidAmerican Review.’
    • ‘I think I did a reasonable science essay on house design.’
    • ‘Many of the essays are just too short to really get into the subject.’
    • ‘This juxtaposition is a characteristic feature of George Eliot's essays and reviews.’
    • ‘In addition, he has published several books of essays, poems and photographs.’
    article, piece of writing, composition, study, paper, dissertation, assignment, thesis, discourse, treatise, text, tract, disquisition, monograph
    View synonyms
  • 2formal An attempt or effort.

    ‘a misjudged essay’
    • ‘Tourism at its best is an attempt, an essay, and not all essays are trivial.’
    attempt, effort, endeavour, try, venture, trial, experiment, undertaking
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 A trial design of a postage stamp yet to be accepted.
      • ‘The Prince Consort essay shown here can be regarded as the forerunner of later Victorian stamps.’
      • ‘He had a beautiful collection of essays and proofs, obtained largely from the designers and engravers with whom he was intimately acquainted.’

verb

[with object]
Pronunciation /eˈsā//ɛˈseɪ/
formal
  • Attempt or try.

    ‘essay a smile’
    • ‘I have never before essayed a non-fictional character.’
    • ‘The chief minister's younger son, Karan Pratap Singh, deftly essayed by Rohit Roy, is both feared and adored by his mother who sees him as both a liability and as her political heir.’
    • ‘Nevin scampered for space and from 30 metres essayed a left-footed shot over the bar.’
    • ‘For any sportsperson, the point of contact in essaying a stroke is the moment of joy.’
    • ‘The protagonist in ‘The Shield’ is Vic Mackey, who is a hard-bitten, tough street cop brilliant essayed by Michael Chiklis.’
    • ‘Rajkumar essayed the role of many a mythological character as well as historical figures.’
    • ‘And, the first role that he played was that of a 74-year-old, the oldest character he's ever essayed in his career.’
    • ‘After a clutch of films in which he has essayed powerful characters with a negative side, Irfan was pleasantly surprised some time last year when a London-based producer approached him with the offer of a lead role in a film.’
    • ‘Subsequently, Beckham essayed a long, high shot but this one, in contrast to the one that made it into the net, was comfortably caught by Jones.’
    • ‘The newsreader forced a glassy smile and essayed a limp defence.’
    • ‘Born in December 1924, Ezekiel essayed many roles with energy and grace: poet, editor, art critic, playwright, teacher, and literary organiser.’
    • ‘George Reid, the Presiding Officer, essayed a bit of Gaelic, then introduced the Lewis psalm-singers.’
    • ‘Some months ago, the Government essayed a crackdown on youths staying late at internet cafes.’
    • ‘The Socialist Party alone seems to be essaying a relatively sophisticated campaign, and taking the trouble to tell voters who its candidates are.’
    • ‘Shortly thereafter, he essayed a hair transplant, which he covered with a bandanna to make sure it was noted.’
    attempt, make an attempt at, try, strive, aim, venture, endeavour, seek, set out, do one's best, do all one can, do one's utmost, make an effort, make every effort, spare no effort, give one's all, take it on oneself
    View synonyms

Origin

Late 15th century (as a verb in the sense ‘test the quality of’): alteration of assay, by association with Old French essayer, based on late Latin exagium ‘weighing’, from the base of exigere ‘ascertain, weigh’; the noun (late 16th century) is from Old French essai ‘trial’.

Pronunciation

essay

Noun/ˈɛseɪ/

essay

Verb/ɛˈseɪ/