verb as·sert \ ə-ˈsərt , a- \
|Updated on: 13 Jul 2018

Definition of assert

asserted; asserting; asserts
1 a : to state or declare positively and often forcefully or aggressively
  • The suspect continued to assert his innocence.
b : to compel or demand acceptance or recognition of (something, such as one's authority)
  • … the confrontations that inevitably occur [between orangutans] when several males try to assert dominance …
  • Wallace asserted control early—shutting down both candidates when they tried to talk over one another, and shushing the audience when it reacted too audibly.
  • —Glenn Thrush
2 a : to demonstrate the existence of
  • He wished to vindicate himself in some way, to assert his manhood.
  • —James Joyce
assert oneself
1 : to speak or act in a manner that compels recognition especially of one's rights
  • … she wants him to learn to assert himself with people in positions of authority.
  • —Malcolm Gladwell
  • … a long-suffering Irish community asserted itself by putting its own politicians in power.
  • —Ellis Cose
2 : to become more strongly apparent : to become clearly seen, known, or experienced
  • Unbidden, a glint asserts itself in Ms. Brown's eyes …
  • —Joanne Kaufman
  • … a passion that through its long suppression was now asserting itself with volcanic necessity.
  • —Zadie Smith

Examples of assert in a Sentence

  1. He asserted that there were spies in the government.

  2. She asserted her independence from her parents by getting her own apartment.

  3. The boss was reluctant to assert his authority over his employees.

Recent Examples of assert from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'assert.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of assert

Latin assertus, past participle of asserere, from ad- + serere to join — more at series

Synonym Discussion of assert

assert, declare, affirm, protest, avow mean to state positively usually in anticipation of denial or objection. assert implies stating confidently without need for proof or regard for evidence.
    • asserted that modern music is just noise
declare stresses open or public statement.
    • declared her support for the candidate
affirm implies conviction based on evidence, experience, or faith.
    • affirmed the existence of an afterlife
protest emphasizes affirming in the face of denial or doubt.
    • protested that he really had been misquoted
avow stresses frank declaration and acknowledgment of personal responsibility for what is declared.
    • avowed that all investors would be repaid in full

synonyms see in addition maintain

ASSERT Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of assert for English Language Learners

  • : to state (something) in a strong and definite way

  • : to demand that other people accept or respect (something)

ASSERT Defined for Kids


verb as·sert \ ə-ˈsərt \

Definition of assert for Students

asserted; asserting
1 : to state clearly and strongly
  • assert an opinion
2 : to make others aware of
  • assert your independence
3 : to speak or act in a way that demands attention or recognition
  • If you want people to listen, you have to assert yourself.

Law Dictionary


transitive verb as·sert \ ə-ˈsərt \

legal Definition of assert

: to present and demand recognition of
  • assert a claim


play \ə-ˈsər-shən\ noun

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