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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from assault

Verb

assaulter noun

Synonyms for assault

Synonyms: Noun

rape, ravishment, sexual assault, violation

Synonyms: Verb

force, rape, ravish, violate

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The charge of assault with a dangerous weapon was pending in South Boston Municipal Court at the time of his death, court records show. Sarah Wu, BostonGlobe.com, "‘He never would have come to mind as someone who would lose his life to gun violence’: Remembering Aquil Muhammad, Boston’s youngest homicide victim of 2019," 30 Aug. 2019 This is why these kinds of assaults are underreported. Chelsea Greenwood Lassman, Teen Vogue, ""13 Reasons Why" Season 3 Recapped and the Questions We Have for Season 4," 29 Aug. 2019 He was charged with two counts of second-degree assault. Washington Post, "Southern Maryland crime report," 28 Aug. 2019 Welton, who has pleaded not guilty to the main allegations, also faces three counts of assault with a firearm, and discharging a firearm from a motor vehicle. Richard Bammer, The Mercury News, "Defendant denies two murders, three attempted murders in early 2017 in Vallejo," 28 Aug. 2019 He was taken to the Jefferson County jail and held on suspicion of first-degree assault with a deadly weapon. Kieran Nicholson, The Denver Post, "Suspect arrested in connection with shooting at Lakewood Walmart," 28 Aug. 2019 Put in that framing and the loss of the local in the face of an assault from globalization starts to sound like part of a far broader conflict taking place in Britain and beyond. Jonathan Wilson, SI.com, "The Tragedy of Bury and Bolton," 27 Aug. 2019 He was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, among other charges. Pete Grieve, SFChronicle.com, "Landlord, her friends arrested after staging home invasion to chase Mountain View tenants away, police say," 27 Aug. 2019 Then in 2018, Worden filed for divorce after McClain accused her of assault. Claudia Harmata, PEOPLE.com, "NASA Astronaut Accused of Hacking Estranged Spouse's Bank Account from Space," 25 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Sciorra isn't being added as a victim in the case, because the alleged attack took place too long ago to be prosecuted under state law, but prosecutors want to use her testimony to prove that Weinstein had a pattern of assaulting woman. Fortune, "Harvey Weinstein Pleads Not Guilty to New Indictment, While Trial Is Pushed Back," 26 Aug. 2019 Sciorra isn’t being added as a victim in the case, because the alleged attack took place too long ago to be prosecuted under state law, but prosecutors want to use her testimony to prove that Weinstein had a pattern of assaulting woman. Time, "Harvey Weinstein Pleads Not Guilty to New Charges of Predatory Sexual Assault," 26 Aug. 2019 Mak gave no further details, but said additional suspects were expected to be arrested, including those who assaulted an officer after stripping him of his baton and pepper spray, prompting him to draw his gun to fend them off. Author: Vincent Thian, Yanan Wang, Anchorage Daily News, "Flights restart at Hong Kong airport as protesters apologize," 14 Aug. 2019 Robinson, according to authorities, is also accused of assaulting a Disneyland employee with his vehicle after the family was escorted out of the park by security. Ryan Parker, The Hollywood Reporter, "People Allegedly Involved in Viral Disneyland Fight Charged With Multiple Felonies and Misdemeanors," 23 July 2019 The day before, he’d been accused of assaulting a white woman, a claim Houston denied. John Hammontree | Jhammontree@al.com, al.com, "Could a new monument heal Jefferson County’s racial divide?," 22 July 2019 The guys who assault Mandy are not written as traditional villains. Morgan Baila, refinery29.com, "HBO's Share Illuminates The Reality Of Being A Teenage Girl In A Totally New Way," 17 July 2019 He’d be gently laughed at by people who might assault their neighbors for wearing the same. Eamon Lynch, azcentral, "Open Championship at Portrush may be the only thing Northern Ireland can agree on," 15 July 2019 Cincinnati police are investigating two robberies in which the victims were accosted from behind by two men who assaulted them. Jeanne Houck, Cincinnati.com, "Cincinnati police: Robbers attacking people from behind," 7 July 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about assault

Statistics for assault

Last Updated

17 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for assault

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on assault

What made you want to look up assault? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

miscellaneous remnants or debris

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!