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

Examples of assert in a Sentence

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 The film’s victory and the powerful charisma of the film’s star Sidney Poitier, empowered to dramatically assert Black dignity and outrage, helped provide the momentum of a movement whose time was clearly overdue. Steven Gaydos, Variety, 16 Feb. 2024 Notably, both countries are progressing in the development of their EW systems to assert control over the electromagnetic spectrum. Vikram Mittal, Forbes, 16 Feb. 2024 This allows the Times to assert that the chatbot is cutting into the market for its work, a factor that judges have sometimes considered to reject a fair-use defense. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 16 Feb. 2024 Yet God created the world and set it in motion, Maimonides asserts, and everything in it depends on God for its existence. Randy L. Friedman, The Conversation, 16 Feb. 2024 As the quarter progressed, River Hill continued to assert its will, attacking down low, while the Lightning struggled to find open shots. Jacob Steinberg, Baltimore Sun, 13 Feb. 2024 Instead, the state merely asserts that the defendant has the burden of providing additional evidence regarding the prescription drug he was given. Nancy Dillon, Rolling Stone, 9 Feb. 2024 Mehta found insufficient proof that Trump in fact asserted the privilege for his trade and pandemic adviser. Spencer S. Hsu, Washington Post, 8 Feb. 2024 The extension of the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale — the system used by the National Hurricane Center to rank the strength of hurricanes — to a sixth category is warranted, authors of the study asserted. Anna Lazarus Caplan, Peoplemag, 8 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'assert.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 1 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


as·​sert ə-ˈsərt How to pronounce assert (audio)
: to state clearly and strongly
: to make others aware of
assert your rights

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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