assault

noun
as·​sault | \ ə-ˈsȯlt How to pronounce assault (audio) \

Definition of assault

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a violent physical or verbal attack
b : a military attack usually involving direct combat with enemy forces an assault on the enemy's air base
c : a concerted effort (as to reach a goal or defeat an adversary) an assault on drug trafficking

2 law

a : a threat or attempt to inflict offensive physical contact or bodily harm on a person (as by lifting a fist in a threatening manner) that puts the person in immediate danger of or in apprehension (see apprehension sense 1) of such harm or contact — compare battery sense 1b

assault

verb
assaulted; assaulting; assaults

Definition of assault (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to make an assault on : to attack violently assaulted a police officer
2 : rape sense 1 The victim was sexually assaulted.

intransitive verb

: to make an assault

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Other Words from assault

Verb

assaulter noun

Synonyms for assault

Synonyms: Noun

rape, ravishment, sexual assault, violation

Synonyms: Verb

force, rape, ravish, violate

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Choose the Right Synonym for assault

Verb

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

Examples of assault in a Sentence

Noun

She was injured in a brutal assault. the body of the murdered woman also showed signs of assault

Verb

He was arrested for assaulting a police officer. She verbally assaulted one of her coworkers. Enemy forces assaulted the city.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

According to KGW’s report, one of the drivers had been in prison for felony assault with intent to murder, and worked for Lyft for more than a year. oregonlive, "168 Uber and Lyft drivers have records that should have precluded hiring, KGW reports," 17 Sep. 2019 Rosales was booked into Marin County Jail on suspicion of battery with injury, robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. Anna Bauman, SFChronicle.com, "Police: Mill Valley teen turns himself in after punching Uber driver, stabbing boy," 16 Sep. 2019 All three have been charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, possession of a loaded firearm, along with several other related charges, police said. BostonGlobe.com, "Three teenagers were arrested after shots were fired in Haverhill Sunday afternoon, damaging two homes, according to police.," 16 Sep. 2019 Dismuke is being charged as an adult and also is charged with assault with intent to murder. Washington Post, "3 teens charged with murder in Michigan woman’s slaying," 13 Sep. 2019 Dismuke is being charged as an adult and also is charged with assault with intent to murder. Detroit Free Press, "3 teens face murder charges in Dearborn woman's death," 13 Sep. 2019 Turner was convicted of three felonies — two for digitally penetrating an unconscious or intoxicated person and one for assault with intent to commit rape. Phil Helsel, NBC News, "Judge recalled over Brock Turner sentence fired as girls' high school tennis coach," 12 Sep. 2019 Nathan Lowe, 43, of Chico, was arrested on suspicion of violation of assault with a deadly weapon, felony reckless evading in a vehicle and resisting arrest after a car chase on Forest Avenue and Springfield Drive. Chico Er, The Mercury News, "Man allegedly rammed another vehicle, claiming girlfriend had been kidnapped," 10 Sep. 2019 Garcia Zarate was acquitted in November 2017 of murder and involuntary manslaughter charges as well as assault with a deadly weapon in Steinle's death. Theresa Waldrop, CNN, "Gun conviction overturned for immigrant acquitted in Kate Steinle death," 30 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Police partners descend into the criminal underworld after they are suspended for assaulting a suspect on video. Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV this week Sept. 15, 2019: ‘Alien,’ ‘Aliens’ and more," 13 Sep. 2019 May's decision to award a knighthood to former England cricketer Geoffrey Boycott, who was convicted in France in 1998 for assaulting his then girlfriend, was sharply criticized. Rob Picheta, CNN, "British ambassador targeted by Trump is made a lord by Theresa May," 10 Sep. 2019 More recently, the couple’s eldest son, Track, served less than two months at an Anchorage halfway house after a conviction for assaulting his father in 2017. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Sarah Palin’s husband appears to be seeking a divorce," 9 Sep. 2019 Courts: Nets player Rodions Kurucs was arrested for allegedly assaulting his ex-girlfriend inside his Brooklyn apartment. SFChronicle.com, "MGM to use Vegas shooting site as Raiders’ parking, community center," 3 Sep. 2019 In Texas, for example, there was a clamor for reforms following the jailhouse death of Sandra Bland, who had been arrested for allegedly assaulting an officer during a July 2015 traffic stop for not using a turn signal. Cnn.com Wire Service, The Mercury News, "States are trying to change a system that keeps poor people in jail. The bail industry is blocking them.," 30 Aug. 2019 Phillies outfielder Odúbel Herrera was arrested in May for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend at a hotel in Atlantic City. Stephanie Apstein, SI.com, "MLB’s Inconsistent Domestic Violence Policy Lets Teams Benefit From Suspensions," 22 Aug. 2019 Police arrested a 58-year-old Roanoke, Virginia, man for assaulting a peace officer and DWI Aug. 5 in the 6000 block of Broadway Street. Jennifer James, Houston Chronicle, "Copper reported stolen from Pearland construction sites," 22 Aug. 2019 James Harper, who had a lengthy criminal record that included arrests for allegedly assaulting a security officer and drug charges, was on probation at the time. Lavendrick Smith, Dallas News, "Family of man shot to death by Dallas officer testifies he'd never fight police, always said, 'I'm running'," 21 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'assault.' 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 assault

Noun

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for assault

Noun and Verb

Middle English assaut, from Anglo-French, from Vulgar Latin *assaltus, from assalire — see assail

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Statistics for assault

Last Updated

14 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for assault

The first known use of assault was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for assault

assault

noun

English Language Learners Definition of assault

 (Entry 1 of 2)

law : the crime of trying or threatening to hurt someone physically
: a violent physical attack
: a military attack

assault

verb

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

: to violently attack (someone or something)

assault

noun
as·​sault | \ ə-ˈsȯlt How to pronounce assault (audio) \

Kids Definition of assault

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a violent or sudden attack a military assault on the castle “… this is assault,” Mr. Eberhardt said. “You can't choke another person.”— Carl Hiaasen, Hoot
2 : an unlawful attempt or threat to harm someone

assault

verb
assaulted; assaulting

Kids Definition of assault (Entry 2 of 2)

: to violently attack Enemy forces assaulted the city.

assault

noun
as·​sault | \ ə-ˈsȯlt How to pronounce assault (audio) \

Legal Definition of assault

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the crime or tort of threatening or attempting to inflict immediate offensive physical contact or bodily harm that one has the present ability to inflict and that puts the victim in fear of such harm or contact — compare battery
2 : the crime of assault accompanied by battery specifically : sexual assault in this entry

called also assault and battery

aggravated assault
: a criminal assault accompanied by aggravating factors: as
a : a criminal assault that is committed with an intent to cause or that causes serious bodily injury especially through the use of a dangerous weapon
b : a criminal assault accompanied by the intent to commit or the commission of a felony (as rape) — compare simple assault in this entry
assault with intent
: a criminal assault committed with the intent to commit another specified crime assault with intent to rob assault with intent to kill
civil assault
: an assault considered as a tort rather than as a crime — compare criminal assault in this entry
criminal assault
: an assault considered as a crime rather than as a tort — compare civil assault in this entry

Note: An assault may be both a criminal assault and a civil assault.

felonious assault
: a criminal assault that is classified as a felony and involves the infliction of serious bodily injury by the use of a dangerous weapon
indecent assault
: intentional offensive sexual contact that does not amount to sexual intercourse or involve penetration and that is committed without consent of the victim and without the intent to commit rape
sexual assault
: sexual contact usually that is forced upon a person without consent or inflicted upon a person who is incapable of giving consent (as because of age or physical or mental incapacity) or who places the assailant (as a doctor) in a position of trust — see also rape

Note: Sexual assault in its most serious forms (often classified as first degree sexual assault) involves nonconsensual sexual penetration. In its less serious forms it may be the equivalent of statutory rape.

simple assault
: a criminal assault that is not accompanied by any aggravating factors (as infliction of serious injury or use of a dangerous weapon) — compare aggravated assault in this entry

Note: Simple assault is usually classified as a misdemeanor.

assault

transitive verb

Legal Definition of assault (Entry 2 of 2)

: to make an assault on specifically : to subject to a sexual assault

intransitive verb

: to make an assault

Other Words from assault

assaulter noun
assaultive \ ə-​ˈsȯl-​tiv How to pronounce assaultive (audio) \ adjective
assaultively adverb
assaultiveness noun

History and Etymology for assault

Noun

Old French assaut, literally, attack, ultimately from Latin assultus, from assilire to leap (on), attack

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Comments on assault

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