ambush

verb
am·​bush | \ ˈam-ˌbu̇sh How to pronounce ambush (audio) \
ambushed; ambushing; ambushes

Definition of ambush

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to attack by surprise from a hidden place : waylay Our troops ambushed the enemy units. … his caravan that season had been ambushed and shot at twice on the way down …— Rudyard Kipling
2 : to station in ambush (see ambush entry 2 sense 2) Mr and Mrs Fyne ambushed at their window—a most incredible occupation for people of their kind—saw with renewed anxiety a cab come to the door.— Joseph Conrad

intransitive verb

: to lie in wait : lurk

ambush

noun
plural ambushes

Definition of ambush (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a trap in which one or more concealed attackers lie in wait to attack by surprise soldiers caught in an ambush Suddenly a shout comes down the line: "Contact front!" It's an ambush, with gunmen on both sides of the road.— Lev Grossman … it is plain he must have been as stupid with weariness as myself, and looked as little where we were going, or we should not have walked into an ambush like blind men.— Robert Louis Stevenson
2 : the concealed position from which a surprise attack is made a group of soldiers lying in ambush … tanks alone are vulnerable to opposing infantry with antitank weapons, particularly at night when the infantry can more easily wait in ambush or approach unseen.— Neil Sheehan also : an individual or group concealed for a surprise attack All was then dead silence; for, loquacious as he was on other occasions, Captain Dalgetty knew well the necessity of an ambush keeping itself under covert. — Robert Burns
3 : the act of approaching or confronting someone with something unexpected often used before another noun ambush journalism… did not return calls or e-mails and was hostile when a television crew conducted an ambush interview several years ago.— Neely Tucker

Other Words from ambush

Verb

ambusher noun
ambushment \ ˈam-​ˌbu̇sh-​mənt How to pronounce ambush (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for ambush

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of ambush in a Sentence

Verb We have reports of enemy soldiers ambushing civilians on this road. the king's enemies planned to ambush the royal coach on the way to Paris and capture the king Noun Many soldiers were killed in the ambush. The soldiers were lying in ambush, waiting for the enemy to approach. a snake waiting in ambush for its next meal
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Watch the video to see Tyler ambush his mom in her garage with a surprise return. Terry Baddoo, USA TODAY, 16 Feb. 2022 The attack, which left other Americans injured and several aircraft destroyed, was the deadliest attack on U.S. forces in Africa since the October 2017 ambush in Niger, in which four soldiers were killed. Washington Post, 10 Mar. 2022 The troops under his command organize in small, nimble units that can sneak up on and ambush the lumbering columns of Russian tanks. New York Times, 5 Mar. 2022 At one point, West and his crew show up uninvited to Roc-a-Fella Records and ambush various employees in humdrum offices with West’s music. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, 19 Feb. 2022 On the other side of the bridge, at the entrance to Irpin’s center, volunteer armed groups have dug trenches on a hill with a commanding vantage point to strike Russian forces or attempt to ambush them. Washington Post, 10 Mar. 2022 Beat the Fins in Week 18 and hope the New York Jets can ambush Buffalo, and Patriots would reclaim AFC East throne. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, 9 Jan. 2022 In an early scene in the documentary, West, Simmons and a few others ambush the Roc A Fella offices. Britt Julious, chicagotribune.com, 16 Feb. 2022 Beat the Fins in Week 18 and hope the New York Jets can ambush Buffalo, and Patriots would reclaim AFC East throne. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, 9 Jan. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Philadelphia police are searching for two gunmen in connection with a broad daylight ambush shooting at a gas station that left a 30-year-old father dead. Fox News, 12 May 2022 In a February ambush of a British convoy, Cruxy was assigned a crucial job, manning one of two machine guns. New York Times, 13 Apr. 2022 The wreckage is the result of a Ukrainian ambush, featuring drone strikes, apparently just a few days after the Russian invasion on Feb. 24. Patrick J. Mcdonnell, Anchorage Daily News, 6 Apr. 2022 The wreckage is the result of a Ukrainian ambush, featuring drone strikes, apparently just a few days after the Russian invasion on Feb. 24. Los Angeles Times, 5 Apr. 2022 The trial began Monday for a young woman from Central Islip, N.Y., who is accused of luring five young men into a savage 2017 ambush that left four of them dead. Steve Helling, PEOPLE.com, 23 Mar. 2022 The two suspects charged with gunning down rapper Young Dolph in a deadly daylight ambush at a Memphis bakery last November pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder Friday. Nancy Dillon, Rolling Stone, 12 Feb. 2022 Two men charged with fatally shooting rapper Young Dolph in a daytime ambush at a Tennessee cookie shop pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and other felony charges Friday. Adrian Sainz, ajc, 11 Feb. 2022 Rather, they’re meant to slow down an enemy force, or compel the enemy to choose a different route—often one leading right into an ambush. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 14 Apr. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ambush.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of ambush

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for ambush

Verb

Middle English enbuschen "to place in hiding in order to attack by surprise, to hide (oneself) in order to attack by surprise," borrowed from Anglo-French embuscher "to place (in the woods) in order to attack by surprise, conceal, lie in wait to attack by surprise" (also continental Old French [Normandy & Picardy] embuschier, Picard dialect embusquier), from em- em- + -buscher, verbal derivative of Picard bus, busc "forest, grove," going back to Old Low Franconian *būska-, going back to Germanic, ablaut variant of *buska- "bush, thicket" — more at bush entry 1

Note: Forms with initial am- instead of em-, which first appear in the noun in the sixteenth century and the verb in the seventeenth century, are of uncertain origin. Given the earlier use in nouns, their appearance may be a by-product of shift of stress to the initial syllable. The suggestion in the Oxford English Dictionary, third edition, that the change is due to association with ambage, does not seem very likely. — The meaning "forest, grove" attached to *būska-, whence the Picard masculine noun bus, busc, receded early before a Gallo-Romance derivative *buska, a re-formation of the Germanic etymon as a neuter collective plural noun, taken as feminine, whence Old French busche "piece of firewood," French bûche. This new formation, also with results in Occitan and Upper Italian dialects, represents a sense shift from "bush, thicket" to "wood collected for a fire" to "split piece of wood, splinter." For a detailed discussion of Romance and Germanic outcomes of būska- see Johannes Hubschmied, "Romanisch-germanische Wortprobleme I. Zur Geschichte von bois, bûche (mit Berücksichtigung der Ortsnamen)," Vox Romanica, Band 29 (1970), pp. 114-16. Within the framework of Germanic and Indo-European ablaut patterns as now understood, a lengthened grade *būska- is questionable, and one might have to appeal to variation of expressive vocabulary within Germanic. Hubschmid, however, works within J. Pokorny's framework, where an Indo-European root with a very general meaning and form, *beu-, *bheu-, *bheuə- "to swell," is subject to an indefinite number of ablaut variants and root extensions.

Noun

earlier enbusshe, borrowed from Middle French embusche, embusque, noun derivative of embuschier "to place (in the woods) in order to attack by surprise" — more at ambush entry 1

Note: For the initial am- in place of em- see note at ambush entry 1

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Time Traveler for ambush

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The first known use of ambush was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

25 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Ambush.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ambush. Accessed 27 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for ambush

ambush

verb
am·​bush | \ ˈam-ˌbu̇sh How to pronounce ambush (audio) \
ambushed; ambushing

Kids Definition of ambush

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to attack by surprise from a hidden place

ambush

noun

Kids Definition of ambush (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a hidden place from which a surprise attack can be made
2 : a surprise attack made from a hidden place

More from Merriam-Webster on ambush

Nglish: Translation of ambush for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ambush for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about ambush

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