Origin: f. Essai, fr. L. Exagium a weighing, weight, balance; ex out _ agere to drive, do; cf. Examen, exagmen, a means of weighing, a weighing, the tongue of a balance, exigere to drive out, examine, weigh, gr. 'exagion a weight, 'exagiazein to examine, 'exagein to drive out, export. See agent, and cf. Exact, Examine, assay.
2. A composition treating of any particular subject; usually shorter and less methodical than a formal, finished treatise; as, an essay on the life and writings of Homer; an essay on fossils, or on commerce.
1. To exert one's power or faculties upon; to make an effort to perform; to attempt; to endeavor; to make experiment or trial of; to try. What marvel if i thus essay to sing? (Byron) Essaying nothing she can not perform. (Emerson) A danger lest the young enthusiast . . . Should essay the impossible. (j. C. Shairp)