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

Lawrence-Daley’s statement says that at the time of the assault, hotel cameras were not operable. Joelle Goldstein, PEOPLE.com, "Woman Attacked in Dominican Republic Says All-Inclusive Resort Is Trying to ‘Blame the Victim’," 7 June 2019 Both Evans and Dugan have been indicted on charges of felonious assault, unlawful restraint and two counts of interfering with civil rights, each. Breanna Edwards, Essence, "Horrific Video Shows 2 Ohio Jail Officers Brutally Beating Black Man In Restraint Chair," 7 June 2019 Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak turned the energy into an offensive assault, pelting Binnington with seven of the Bruins’ 17 first period shots. Dan Falkenheim, SI.com, "Blues Survive Bruins' Late Flurry to Take Game 5, Series Lead," 6 June 2019 The 33-year-old Mechanicsville man was arrested and charged with false imprisonment, second-degree assault, and malicious destruction of property. Washington Post, "Southern Maryland crime report," 6 June 2019 But Keefover describes the plan as an assault on nature, inviting chaos. Seth Boster, The Denver Post, "An up-close mission to understand mountain lions in Colorado — but is it too close?," 6 June 2019 The grand assault, named Operation Overlord, began on the coast of Normandy. oregonlive.com, "D-Day survivor: ‘Why were they killed and I wasn’t? Why?'," 5 June 2019 In some of New York’s Orthodox Jewish enclaves, anti-Semitic assaults, slurs and swastika graffiti have grown so common that people are at risk of becoming numb to them, community leaders said. Sharon Otterman, New York Times, "Swastikas and Burning Pride Flags: Hate Crimes Spike in N.Y.," 5 June 2019 She was arraigned Tuesday on charges of neglect of care of a dependent person, aggravated assault, involuntary manslaughter, and theft. Erin Mccarthy, https://www.inquirer.com, "Delaware County woman charged in death of elderly mom kept in 'deplorable’ conditions in Havertown home," 4 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

After Ellis’ arrest May 9, 2018, he was charged with assaulting the first woman at Pettygrove Park on May 8, as well as the four women on May 9. oregonlive.com, "Man who randomly punched judge, prosecutor and others in downtown Portland gets 4 years," 6 June 2019 Take the case of David Dao, who was assaulted by security staff aboard a United Airlines flight in 2017. Wes Siler, Outside Online, "The Grim Effect Delta's ESA Lawsuit Will Have on Travel," 4 June 2019 The handling of the case, which accused Smollett of falsely reporting to police that he was assaulted by two men in downtown Chicago on Jan. 29, has drawn widespread condemnation. Jonathan Landrum Jr., The Seattle Times, "Beyonce, ‘Black Panther’ win at 50th NAACP Image Awards," 1 Apr. 2019 In May, it was reported that over 300 women had come forward saying they were assaulted by Nassar, The Chicago Tribune reports. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Dr. Christine Blasey Ford Made a Rare Appearance to Honor a Sexual Abuse Survivor," 12 Dec. 2018 The Frenchman, arriving into Russia with his boyfriend in excitement for the World Cup, landed in the country to help support his nation, but has been left with serious injuries after he was assaulted. SI.com, "Gay Couple Left With Brain Injuries Following St Petersburg Attack Ahead of World Cup Kick Off," 14 June 2018 Both Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Kavanaugh of assaulting her at a high school party in the 1980s, testified before the committee on Thursday in an eight-hour session. Adam Shaw, Fox News, "Committee advances Kavanaugh nomination in party-line vote, as Flake seeks delay," 29 Sep. 2018 And a third woman misidentified one of Winslow II’s defense attorneys as the person who assaulted her. Teri Figueroa, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Accusers fail to identify Winslow II in court," 11 July 2018 Ruckman even identified another man out of a police lineup as the man who assaulted her, but Zain said that his DNA evidence excluded that man. Michael Harriot, The Root, "Stacey Abrams’ Sister Is Engaged to a Man Incarcerated 26 Years for a Rape and Robbery He Didn’t Commit," 25 May 2018

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

10 Jun 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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