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 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

Birru pleaded no contest to assault with a firearm. Los Angeles Times, "She faces deportation after shooting her husband. Now Gov. Newsom could pardon her," 23 Aug. 2019 In fact, the investigation revealed that Brown attacked the officer, attempted to wrestle his gun away, and then later ignored warnings to surrender and instead charged directly at the officer, apparently to assault him again. Nr Editors, National Review, "The Week," 22 Aug. 2019 Olsen is charged with threatening to assault a federal law enforcement officer. Eric Levenson, CNN, "This little-known meme site has hosted two mass shooting threats this month," 21 Aug. 2019 August 12: Authorities charged an 18-year-old Ohio man who the FBI says threatened to assault federal law enforcement officers and showed support for mass shootings in a post online. Cnn.com Wire Service, The Mercury News, "At least 27 people have been arrested over threats to commit mass attacks since the Gilroy, El Paso and Dayton shootings," 21 Aug. 2019 On May 9, 2018, Gaffney pleaded guilty once more — to assault with a dangerous weapon for the attack on Taylor. Washington Post, "Hate crime reports have soared in D.C. Prosecutions have plummeted.," 21 Aug. 2019 Justin Olsen, 18, faces a charge of threatening to assault a federal law enforcement officer. Eric Heisig, Anchorage Daily News, "‘Shoot every federal agent on sight’: 18-year-old behind online threat had 10,000 rounds of ammo, feds say," 14 Aug. 2019 Justin Olsen, 18, faces a charge of threatening to assault a federal law enforcement officer. Eric Heisig, al, "Man allegedly posted about mass shootings, claims he joined Alabama ROTC program," 13 Aug. 2019 She is accused of using the baton to assault the officer. Diana Kruzman | The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive.com, "Portland woman allegedly beat police officer with his own baton," 3 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

17 Sep 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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