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!
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
First Known Use: 13th century
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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