"to put to proof, test the mettle of," late 15c., from French essaier, from essai "trial, attempt" (see essay (n.)). This sense has mostly gone with the divergent spelling assay. Meaning "to attempt" is from 1640s. Related: Essayed; essaying.
1710, "a downward movement," from down (adv.). Football sense of "an attempt to advance the ball" is by 1882.
"state or feeling of a comrade," 1862, an attempt to nativize camaraderie. Comradeship is attested from 1815.