assail

play
verb as·sail \ə-ˈsāl\

Definition of assail

  1. transitive verb
  2. :  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]

assailable

play \-ˈsā-lə-bəl\ adjective

assailant

play \-ˈsā-lənt\ noun

assail was our Word of the Day on 08/23/2007. Hear the podcast!

Recent Examples of assail from the Web

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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."

Origin and Etymology of assail

Middle English, from Anglo-French assaillir, from Vulgar Latin *assalire, alteration of Latin assilire to leap upon, from ad- + salire to leap — more at sally

Synonym Discussion of assail

attack, assail, assault, bombard, storm mean to make an onslaught upon. attack implies taking the initiative in a struggle. plan to attack the town at dawn assail implies attempting to break down resistance by repeated blows or shots. assailed the enemy with artillery fire assault suggests a direct attempt to overpower by suddenness and violence of onslaught. commandos assaulted the building from all sides bombard applies to attacking with bombs or shells. bombarded the city nightly storm implies attempting to break into a defended position. preparing to storm the fortress

ASSAIL Defined for Kids

assail

play
verb as·sail \ə-ˈsāl\

Definition of assail for Students

assailed

;

assailing

  1. 1 :  to attack violently or angrily with blows or words His plan was assailed by critics.

  2. 2 :  to be troubled or bothered by assailed by doubts A horrible odor assailed my nose.



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marked by lack of plan or order

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