Definition of assail
: to attack violently Critics assailed his new book. a politician assailed by the media —often used figuratively She was assailed by doubts. A horrible odor assailed our noses. [=we smelled a horrible odor]
assailableplay \-ˈsā-lə-bəl\ adjective
assailantplay \-ˈsā-lənt\ noun
assail was our Word of the Day on 08/23/2007. Hear the podcast!
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Recent Examples of assail from the Web
The more likely culprit is Dan Scavino, Trump’s social-media director, whom the Office of Special Counsel last month deemed to have violated the Hatch Act by assailing Republican Representative Justin Amash.
Gay rights groups and other liberal critics have assailed the law as one that permits discrimination of LGBTQ students.
Mayor Bill Peduto has publicly assailed Uber and former CEO Travis Kalanick for refusing to back the city's application for a federal cities innovation grant and for making a stingy contribution to a philanthropic initiative.
And the White House has responded by assailing the credibility of the nonpartisan budget office.
In the past, some bills assailed as undemocratic have foundered before reaching a parliamentary vote, or have been watered down because their constitutionality was questioned.
Some civil rights advocates immediately assailed the memo as part of an attempt by the Trump administration to whittle away at civil rights enforcement.
Council members were assailed by protesters for their handling of the shooting.
This reversal was widely assailed by LGBTQ advocacy groups, including HRC.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'assail'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Did You Know?
Assail comes from an Anglo-French verb, assaillir, which itself traces back to the Latin verb assilire ("to leap upon"). "Assilire" combines the prefix ad- ("to, toward") with the Latin verb salire, meaning "to leap." When "assail" was first used in the 13th century, it meant "to make a violent physical attack upon." By the 1500s, English speakers were using the term to mean "to attack with words or arguments."
Synonym Discussion of assail
ASSAIL Defined for Kids
Definition of assail for Students
1 : to attack violently or angrily with blows or words His plan was assailed by critics.
2 : to be troubled or bothered by assailed by doubts A horrible odor assailed my nose.
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