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 1) 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 persons 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 of a person or group stationed to make a surprise attack 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 : the person or group so stationed 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
4 : 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

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Other Words from ambush

Verb

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

Synonyms for ambush

Synonyms: Verb

ambuscade, surprise (also surprize), waylay

Synonyms: Noun

ambuscade, ambushment, surprise (also surprize), trap

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The drones allowed officers to make sure suspects could not ambush officers, the memo said. Mark Puente, latimes.com, "LAPD wants to make drone program permanent and expand uses for the aerial devices," 5 July 2019 Luis Valbuena, a 32-year-old infielder, died in Venezuela last December after highway robbers ambushed his car, which crashed. Kevin Draper, New York Times, "Tyler Skaggs, Angels Pitcher, Found Dead at 27," 1 July 2019 And in perhaps the blackly funniest, set in a car at night, two killers are ambushed, their killers argue over what proclamation to leave, then that duo is killed by a new pair of armed and disjointed radicals — rinse, repeat. Robert Abele, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Review: Absurdist telenovela ‘The Wandering Soap Opera’ is a singular treat," 27 June 2019 That proved significant, as Mookie Betts led off the bottom of the inning by ambushing a first-pitch fastball into the first row of the center-field bleachers for his 13th homer, and his second of the year on a first pitch. Alex Speier, BostonGlobe.com, "Persistent Red Sox beat back, walk off Chicago," 24 June 2019 The man accused of killing a Sacramento police officer strategically placed four weapons around his barricaded home — and ambushed police officers who knocked on his door — shooting at them from different rooms, Sacramento police said Friday night. Suzanne Espinosa Solis, SFChronicle.com, "Body-cam footage released. Sacramento police say suspect would have killed more officers," 21 June 2019 Might wolves improve at ambushing prey over their lifetimes, their tactics honed by years of practice? Ben Goldfarb, National Geographic, "The secret lives of fish-eating, beaver-ambushing wolves of Minnesota," 21 June 2019 Colorado extended its lead to 2-0 in the fourth on singles by Dahl, Murphy and Desmond, who changed up the game plan by ambushing deGrom’s first-pitch slider. Patrick Saunders, The Denver Post, "Rockies’ Antonio Senzatela outpitched Jacob deGrom to beat Mets," 7 June 2019 In Juba, Ronah learned their car had narrowly escaped a similar fate: the vehicle behind them had been ambushed. Nina Strochlic, National Geographic, "Mourning refugees risk a war zone to bury their dead at home," 20 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The other was of an ambush shooting at a California Costco parking lot (the second Costco shooting in three days): one dead, two injured. Amy Dickinson, Washington Post, "Ask Amy: Correcting the record on ammo," 1 July 2019 The other was of an ambush shooting at a California Costco parking lot (the second Costco shooting in three days): one dead, two injured. Amy Dickinson, The Mercury News, "Ask Amy revisits the gun question that brought threats against her," 1 July 2019 The other was of an ambush shooting at a California Costco parking lot (the second Costco shooting in three days): one dead, two injured. Ask Amy, oregonlive.com, "Ask Amy: Let’s talk about gun violence," 1 July 2019 The other was of an ambush shooting at a California Costco parking lot (the second Costco shooting in three days): one dead, two injured. Amy Dickinson, Detroit Free Press, "Correcting the record on ammo and guns," 1 July 2019 The other was of an ambush shooting at a California Costco parking lot (the second Costco shooting in three days): one dead, two injured. Amy Dickinson, The Denver Post, "Ask Amy: Correcting the record on ammo and guns," 1 July 2019 The other was of an ambush shooting at a California Costco parking lot (the second Costco shooting in three days): one dead, two injured. Amy Dickinson, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Ask Amy: Correcting the record on ammo and guns," 30 June 2019 The other was of an ambush shooting at a California Costco parking lot (the second Costco shooting in three days): one dead, two injured. Amy Dickinson, chicagotribune.com, "Correcting the record on ammo and guns," 27 June 2019 Family members of the rookie Sacramento police officer who was shot and killed in an ambush last week defended the department’s response and rescue efforts during the incident. Lauren Hernández, SFChronicle.com, "Father of slain Sacramento police officer defends department’s rescue effort," 25 June 2019

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.

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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 and Noun

Middle English embushen, from Anglo-French embuscher, from en in (from Latin in) + busche log, firewood

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Statistics for ambush

Last Updated

10 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ambush

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

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More Definitions for ambush

ambush

verb

English Language Learners Definition of ambush

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to attack (someone or something) by surprise from a hidden place

ambush

noun

English Language Learners Definition of ambush (Entry 2 of 2)

: an act of hiding, waiting for others to appear, and then suddenly attacking them : a surprise attack
: a hidden place from which a surprise attack can be made

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on ambush

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ambush

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ambush

Spanish Central: Translation of 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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