assay [verb a-sey; noun as-ey, a-sey] ExamplesWord Origin verb (used with object)

  1. to examine or analyze: to assay a situation; to assay an event.
  2. Metallurgy. to analyze (an ore, alloy, etc.) in order to determine the quantity of gold, silver, or other metal in it.
  3. Pharmacology. to subject (a drug) to an analysis for the determination of its potency or composition.
  4. to judge the quality of; assess; evaluate: to assay someone’s efforts.
  5. to try or test; put to trial: to assay one’s strength; to assay one’s debating abilities.
  6. to attempt; try; essay: to assay a dance step.

verb (used without object)

  1. to contain, as shown by analysis, a certain proportion of usually precious metal.


  1. Metallurgy. determination of the amount of metal, especially gold or silver, in an ore, alloy, etc.
  2. a substance undergoing analysis or trial.
  3. a detailed report of the findings in assaying a substance.
  4. Archaic. examination; trial; attempt; essay.

Origin of assay 1250–1300; Middle English Middle French; variant of essay Related formsas·say·a·ble, adjectiveas·say·er, nounun·as·sayed, adjectiveun·as·say·ing, adjectiveCan be confusedassay essay Related Words for assaying evaluation, inspection, valuation, assessment, trial, investigation, survey, measurement, test, examination, estimation, appraisal, rating, assess, see, measure, check, size, rate, prove Examples from the Web for assaying Historical Examples of assaying

  • I assisted in the assaying department for a short time in 1867.

    Some Reminiscences of old Victoria

    Edgar Fawcett

  • The Coco took an arrow from the quiver, and tried the head with the assaying liquid.

    The Scalp Hunters

    Mayne Reid

  • The Science room and laboratory were used for chemistry and assaying.

    McGill and its Story, 1821-1921

    Cyrus Macmillan

  • I could be more certain of helping you when it comes to assaying or developing a mine.

    Rimrock Trail

    J. Allan Dunn

  • On such a system of assaying as that, the Humboldt world had gone crazy.

    Roughing It

    Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

  • British Dictionary definitions for assaying assay verb (əˈseɪ)

    1. to subject (a substance, such as silver or gold) to chemical analysis, as in the determination of the amount of impurity
    2. (tr) to attempt (something or to do something)
    3. (tr; may take a clause as object) to test, analyse, or evaluateto assay the significance of early childhood experience

    noun (əˈseɪ, ˈæseɪ)

      1. an analysis, esp a determination of the amount of metal in an ore or the amounts of impurities in a precious metal
      2. (as modifier)an assay office
    1. a substance undergoing an analysis
    2. a written report on the results of an analysis
    3. a test
    4. archaic an attempt

    Derived Formsassayable, adjectiveassayer, nounWord Origin for assay C14: from Old Northern French assai; see essay Word Origin and History for assaying assay v.

    c.1300, “to try, endeavor, strive; test the quality of,” from Anglo-French assaier, from assai (n.), from Old French essai “trial” (see essay).

    assay n.

    “trial, test of quality, test of character,” mid-14c., from Anglo-French assai (see assay (v.)). Meaning “analysis” is from late 14c.

    assaying in Medicine assay [ăs′ā′, ă-sā′] n.

    1. Qualitative or quantitative analysis of a substance, especially of an ore or a drug, to determine its components.
    2. A substance to be so analyzed.
    3. The result of such an analysis.
    4. An analysis or examination.


    1. To subject a substance to chemical analysis.
    2. To examine a person’s capability by trial or experiment; put to a test.
    3. To evaluate a situation; assess.
    4. To attempt; try.
    5. To be shown by analysis to contain a certain proportion of atoms, molecules, compounds, or precious metal.

    assaying in Science assay [ăs′ā, ə-sā′]

    1. A quantitative determination of the amount of a given substance in a particular sample. Assays are regularly used to determine the purity of precious metals. They can be performed by wet methods or dry methods. In the wet method, the sample is dissolved in a reagent, like an acid, until the purified metal is separated out. In the dry method, the sample is mixed with a flux (a substance such as borax or silica that helps lower the melting temperature) and then the sample is heated to the point where impurities in the metal fuse with the flux, leaving the purified metal as a residue.
    2. A bioassay.

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