assault

noun
as·​sault | \ ə-ˈsȯlt \

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

The boy was one of three teen suspects in a stolen BMW involved in a police chase at the time of the alleged assault. Jewel Wicker, Teen Vogue, "A Former Atlanta Police Officer Who Beat a Black Teenager on the Job Has Been Indicted for Assault," 12 Oct. 2018 Both men involved in the alleged assaults are still employed by WeWork, according to the suit. Shirin Ghaffary, Recode, "A former WeWork employee is suing the company over alleged sexual assaults fueled by ‘frat-boy culture’," 12 Oct. 2018 Majority of the video talked about Logan's fall out with Alissa Violet and his fight against FaZe Banks over an alleged assault that took place. Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, "Shane Dawson Releases First Part of "The Mind of Jake Paul" Series and It's Insane," 26 Sep. 2018 In 2008, an assault by militants on a remote US base in Afghanistan close to Pakistan killed nine American soldiers and wounded 15. BostonGlobe.com, "This day in history," 13 July 2018 The assault occurred Tuesday in the 800 block of Industrial Boulevard, according to a post on the department’s Facebook page. Raisa Habersham, ajc, "Cops: 4 women punch, stab Applebee’s waitress, then steal her tip money," 12 July 2018 In 2011, when Obama’s healthcare law was under assault, Kavanaugh dissented when a D.C. Circuit Court panel upheld the law, but only on procedural grounds. David G. Savage, latimes.com, "Brett Kavanaugh, a Washington veteran, is Trump's second pick for the Supreme Court," 10 July 2018 The mystical Pepperland is under assault from the Blue Meanies, and an aging sailor sets off in his yellow submarine (based on a pre-existing song with Ringo singing lead) to get help. Jordan Hoffman, New York Times, "Where to Stream the Best, and the Most Ridiculous, of the Beatles on Film," 9 July 2018 The June 7, 2017, attack has so far been the only assault by the Sunni extremists inside of Shiite Iran, which has been deeply involved in the wars in Iraq and Syria where the militants once held vast territory. Amir Vahdat And Jon Gambrell, chicagotribune.com, "Iran executes 8 over 2017 Islamic State attack on Tehran," 7 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Nassar had pleaded guilty to assaulting seven people in the Lansing area between 1998 and 2015. Kaitlyn Schallhorn, Fox News, "Michigan gubernatorial candidate joined by Nassar victim's parents in latest campaign ads," 19 Sep. 2018 Boucher pleaded guilty to assaulting a member of Congress and was sentenced last month in Kentucky. Bruce Schreiner, The Seattle Times, "Prosecutors appeal sentence for man who attacked Rand Paul," 2 July 2018 But Johnson pleaded guilty in October 2017 to assaulting only three of those women. Fleming Smith, ajc, "Former prison guard sentenced to 51 months for assaulting female inmates," 12 June 2018 Nassar, 54, is serving an effective life sentence in prison after pleading guilty to assaulting nine girls and women in Michigan, as well as to federal child pornography crimes. Liz Clarke, chicagotribune.com, "USA Gymnastics CEO Kerry Perry apologizes to victims of Larry Nassar," 23 May 2018 According to Grayson County Jail records, Michael James Ouellette, 48, and his 43-year-old wife Shannon Lee Ouellette were arrested and charged with assaulting a peace officer, evading arrest and endangering a child Tuesday. Matthew Martinez, star-telegram, "'End times': Nude family walks away from burning home before parents assault PD chief, Texas cops say | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 17 May 2018 Nassar pleaded guilty to assaulting victims with his hands under the guise of treatment. CBS News, "Michigan State, Nassar sex abuse victims reach $500 million settlement," 16 May 2018 RP Tyler Clippard, Toronto Blue Jays (AL: $13, Mixed: $9) The Blue Jays bullpen is in flux right now with closer Roberto Osuna on administrative leave after he was charged with assaulting a woman. Steve Gardner, USA TODAY, "Fantasy baseball waiver wire: Dustin Fowler personifies patience," 12 May 2018 The first is a rule change that would make a university no longer responsible for students who are assaulted off-campus. Cady Drell, Marie Claire, "What to Know About The Title IX Changes—And How You Can Fight Them," 20 Nov. 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

7 Jan 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 \

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 \

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 \ 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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