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[uh-ses] /əˈsɛs/
verb (used with object)
to estimate officially the value of (property, income, etc.) as a basis for taxation.
to fix or determine the amount of (damages, a tax, a fine, etc.):
The hurricane damage was assessed at six million dollars.
to impose a tax or other charge on.
to estimate or judge the value, character, etc., of; evaluate:
to assess one's efforts.
Origin of assess
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English assessen < Medieval Latin assessāre to assess a tax, derivative of Latin assēssus seated beside (a judge) (past participle of assidēre), equivalent to as- as- + sed- (stem of sedēre to sit1) + -tus past participle suffix
Related forms
assessable, adjective
overassess, verb (used with object)
reassess, verb (used with object)
unassessable, adjective
unassessed, adjective
well-assessed, adjective
Can be confused
access, assess, excess.
accessible, assessable.
2. appraise, adjust. 4. appraise. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for assess
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The committee sympathised with him, but found that they must assess him according to his rent.

    Hodge and His Masters Richard Jefferies
  • I cannot pretend to assess impartially the value of this movement.

  • At the close of my address the deacons came out to assess the congregation in the matter of collection.

    The Soul of John Brown Stephen Graham
  • We said we might buy something more and he could assess them all together.

  • And the question I would raise is this: By which of these two standards shall we assess the word 'happiness'?

    Another Sheaf John Galsworthy
British Dictionary definitions for assess


verb (transitive)
to judge the worth, importance, etc, of; evaluate
(foll by at) to estimate the value of (income, property, etc) for taxation purposes: the estate was assessed at three thousand pounds
to determine the amount of (a fine, tax, damages, etc)
to impose a tax, fine, etc, on (a person or property)
Derived Forms
assessable, adjective
Word Origin
C15: from Old French assesser, from Latin assidēre to sit beside, from sedēre to sit
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for assess

early 15c., "to fix the amount (of a tax, fine, etc.)," from Anglo-French assesser, from Medieval Latin assessare "fix a tax upon," originally frequentative of Latin assessus "a sitting by," past participle of assidere "to sit beside" (and thus to assist in the office of a judge), from ad- "to" (see ad-) + sedere "to sit" (see sedentary). One of the judge's assistant's jobs was to fix the amount of a fine or tax. Meaning "to estimate the value of property for the purpose of taxing it" is from 1809; transferred sense of "to judge the value of a person, idea, etc." is from 1934. Related: Assessed; assessing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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