Essay as a Verb

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New Member
Persian - Iran
Essay as a verb <-----Topic added to post by moderator.----->

Is the following sentence correct?
"It is incumbent upon government to essay to address people's problems."
Thanks in advance for your kind consideration.
Last edited:
  • MikeMc

    Senior Member
    Not really. I have heard it used that way, meaning "to try", but it is so rare and I think most people in the US would not understand it.


    New Member
    Persian - Iran
    Thank you for your answer.
    I want to use that in IELTS writing, and I am not sure about whether after "essay" we can use "to V" or "Ving".


    Senior Member
    British English
    It should be followed by the full infinitive. But "try" is a much better word to use in your sentence - unless you are writing dialogue for a book set in the 18th or 19th century.


    Senior Member
    English - England
    I want to use that in IELTS writing,
    The word died from current use about 1900, and had not been in regular use since 1750. To my mind, it would be the same as using "thou, thee, thy and thine" in IELTS writing,


    Senior Member
    English (American)
    The word died from current use about 1900, and had not been in regular use since 1750.
    You know, it doesn't seem that antiquated to me. Rare and formal, certainly. So I checked "essayed" on Google News, and I have to say I was surprised at what I saw: at least 95% of the results are from Indian sources, where apparently "to essay" lives on blithely in zombie form. And all or essentially all the sources used "essayed" to mean "acted, portrayed, played" (as, e.g., a part in a play or film), which is not even a sense of the word I'm familiar with (nor is it in the WR dictionary's definition). Strange.


    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    To get back to your question:
    As Andygc says, the to-infinitive is used after 'essay' when it means 'try'. Here are two examples from respectable AE sources.

    On The Inadequacy Of The Empiricist Tradition In Western Philosophy
    NPR (blog)-Jan 30, 2012
    Then we come to Hume of the Scottish Enlightenment, essaying to understand "Human Understanding." How can we know the world?

    A look at Thomas Jefferson's later-in-life fascination with Jesus
    Raw Story-Oct 5, 2015
    Second, each was persecuted for unconventionality—viz., for essaying to introduce new, uncomfortable “truths” to the world.
    However, I agree with the others that it would be better to use another verb, if you have a choice.

    It appears to me that in some languages, formal writing is expected to use a vocabulary that is different from that used in ordinary communication. However, that is not true in English. In English, clarity is valued over 'fancy' language, and the vocabulary used is not that different from that used in ordinary speech. It is just used more carefully and precisely.
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