as·​sert ə-ˈsərt How to pronounce assert (audio)
asserted; asserting; asserts

transitive verb

: to state or declare positively and often forcefully or aggressively
The suspect continued to assert his innocence.
: 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
: to demonstrate the existence of
He wished to vindicate himself in some way, to assert his manhood. James Joyce
assertible adjective
an assertible defense
assert oneself
: 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
: 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
Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Example Sentences

He asserted that there were spies in the government. She asserted her independence from her parents by getting her own apartment. The boss was reluctant to assert his authority over his employees.
Recent Examples on the Web There are so few ways for musicians to assert themselves in these flat, sprawling, highly regulated corporate spaces. Chris Richards, Washington Post, 15 Nov. 2022 Ohio State's inability to assert itself up front against Northwestern on ether side of the ball was a bit disconcerting for a team heading toward a showdown against No. 4 Michigan. Ralph D. Russo, ajc, 6 Nov. 2022 Judd also recalled a moment, during a duet with McBryde, when the younger artist decided to assert herself. Nancy Kruh, Peoplemag, 28 Oct. 2022 Despite continuing to build his physical stature — now 6-foot-7 and 231 pounds — Williams still struggles to consistently assert himself around the rim. Julia Poe, Chicago Tribune, 18 Oct. 2022 Disney Plus continues to assert itself as the streaming service above all others that fans of the K-pop group BTS will probably never, ever, willingly cancel. Andy Meek, BGR, 17 Oct. 2022 Speech lets readers watch characters assert themselves. Katherine Hu, The Atlantic, 15 Oct. 2022 Most would assume that men in high-status positions are more likely to flirt at work in an effort to achieve or assert dominance. Paolo Confino, Fortune, 22 Sep. 2022 As part of Russia’s campaign to assert control, its state nuclear energy company, Rosatom, has sought to pressure the Zaporizhzhya plant’s thousands of workers to sign labor contracts with it. WIRED, 28 Oct. 2022 See More

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.

Word History


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

First Known Use

circa 1604, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of assert was circa 1604

Dictionary Entries Near assert

Cite this Entry

“Assert.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition



as·​sert ə-ˈsərt How to pronounce assert (audio)
: to state clearly and strongly
: to make others aware of
assert your rights
assert oneself
: to act or speak up so others are aware of one's interests and opinions

Legal Definition


transitive verb

as·​sert ə-ˈsərt How to pronounce assert (audio)
: to present and demand recognition of
assert a claim
assertion noun

More from Merriam-Webster on assert

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