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

The onus should never be on a potential victim (or their friends) to avoid an assault. Natasha Lavender, SELF, "What to Do if Your Friend Is Passed Out Drunk," 26 Feb. 2019 This week’s hotel attack in Kenya bore similarities to the 2013 al-Shabaab assault on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall, which left 67 dead, and the 2015 massacre of 147 students and others at Kenya’s Garissa University College. Michael M. Phillips, WSJ, "America’s Other Endless War: Battling al-Shabaab in Somalia," 17 Jan. 2019 Moonves stepped down in September after at least 12 women came forward to accuse him of behavior that ranged from lewd comments to assault. Julyssa Lopez, Glamour, "CBS Is Donating $20 Million From Les Moonves' Severance Package to 18 Women's Organizations," 15 Dec. 2018 Chris Metcalf, publisher of the left-leaning Reasonable People Unite, compares the overnight disappearance of his account to an assault on free speech, rather than the company realizing its oft-reneged upon promise to stamp out fake news. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "Facebook's Fake News Problem Isn't Russian Anymore—It's Homegrown," 12 Oct. 2018 Jose Emanuel Raselbach was charged Tuesday afternoon with one count each of murder, attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon, according to the district attorney’s office. Brittny Mejia, latimes.com, "Man charged with murder, attempted murder in connection with West Hollywood knife attack," 12 July 2018 This appalling atrocity is an assault on all of us who cherish religious freedom, tolerance, compassion and community. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kate Middleton, Prince William, Meghan Markle, and Prince Harry Respond to the Tragic Shootings in New Zealand," 15 Mar. 2019 This appalling atrocity is an assault on all of us who cherish religious freedom, tolerance, compassion and community. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "The Royal Family Sends Condolences to the Families and Victims of the New Zealand Shootings," 15 Mar. 2019 These charges are enhancements on the charges of misdemeanor assault and misdemeanor disorderly conduct that Trybus previously faced for the incident that happened June 14 at Caldwell Woods in northwest Chicago. Ted Slowik, Daily Southtown, "Slowik: Trump, race and why it seems like a hate-fueled confrontation might happen anywhere, anytime," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Women without high school diplomas are 400 percent more likely to be assaulted than women with bachelor’s degrees. Jennifer Wright, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Benefits of Privilege: Being Rich and White Is Proof You Must Be Good," 5 Oct. 2018 Tito Catota, 38, admitted on Monday to forcibly assaulting, impeding, intimidating and interfering with two male customs officers while on duty at Newark Liberty International Airport in 2016 and 2017, the Associated Press reports. Fox News, "Customs officer involved in 'rape table' controversy pleads guilty; two others indicted," 2 Oct. 2018 Some attackers, for example, may simply take advantage of a social situation in which there is drinking to assault someone. German Lopez, Vox, "We need to talk about Brett Kavanaugh and alcohol," 27 Sep. 2018 Police said the three men began to assault the 20-year-old, who dropped to the ground and covered his head in defense. Hanna Krueger, NOLA.com, "2 armed robberies and a carjacking in 6 hours in New Orleans, police say," 9 May 2018 DeAngelo, 72, is suspected of raping at least 37 women in and around Sacramento and killing Brian and Katie Maggiore before his crime spree moved south, where he is believed to have assaulted at least eight more women and murdered 10 more people. Benjy Egel, sacbee, "The East Area Rapist suspect was arrested. Here's what's coming Thursday and beyond | The Sacramento Bee," 26 Apr. 2018 French police have arrested thousands of rioters and looters; dozens have been charged with assaulting police. Matthew Dalton, WSJ, "‘Spreading Like a Poison’: Anti-Semitic Acts Increase in France," 17 Feb. 2019 Jones was arrested and charged with assaulting Garner. Martha Bellisle, The Seattle Times, "Nurse who lost part of ear in patient assault sues state," 8 Nov. 2018 Stevens is charged with assaulting a 22-year-old woman on an Alaska Airlines flight from Anchorage in March. Gene Johnson, Fox News, "Prosecutors file charges in 2 sex assault cases on airplanes," 30 Aug. 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

15 Apr 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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