Word of the Day


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Origin of the word

The verb endeavour dates from around the 14th century and is derived from the phrase ‘put in dever’, where ‘dever’ represents ‘duty’ as in the Old French. This, in turn, was taken from the Latin ‘debere’ meaning ‘to owe’, while the original definition was ‘to take something away from someone’.

The Old French root in the early 15th century led to the formation of endeavour as a noun. The phrase ‘mettre en deveir’ meant to ‘put in duty’ or to ‘make it one’s duty.’ From this the meaning shifted to ‘taking pains to attain something’ and by the late 15th century this was equivalent to ‘making the greatest effort’.

Related words: endeavours, endeavouring, endeavoured


“Researchers said they believe they have located the wreckage of the Endeavour, a ship sailed by the famous British explorer James Cook, which was sunk off the US during the revolutionary war. The ship was scuttled in 1778 leading up to the Battle of Rhode Island between American colonists and the British, and was as part of a blockade during the revolutionary war.” – The Guardian. 2nd May 2016: Wreckage of Captain James Cook’s ship Endeavour found, researchers say.

“These self-described ‘ordinary’ women had achieved a truly extraordinary physical and mental feat, in one of the world’s harshest environments. And they raised almost £51,000 for breast cancer to boot.” – The Telegraph. 17th February 2017: Reindeer, Northern Lights and human endeavour on an Arctic ski marathon.

“Miss Ritchie said the museum ‘endeavours to offer appropriate education opportunities wherever it can for young people who would like to be artists or curators’.” BBC News. 30th September 2017: Cambridge Fitzwilliam “professor of swords” boy’s personal tour.


1. to try very hard to do something
2. an effort to do something, especially something new or difficult

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

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