assail

verb
as·​sail | \ ə-ˈsāl How to pronounce assail (audio) \
assailed; assailing; assails

Definition of assail

transitive verb

1 : to attack violently : assault The military has for years been developing offensive capabilities, giving it the power not just to defend the US but to assail its foes.— James Bamford
2 : to encounter, undertake, or confront energetically When a lazy man does make up his mind to assail a piece of work, he is like a dog with a bone.— P. G. Wodehouse
3 : to oppose, challenge, or criticize harshly and forcefully a proposal assailed by critics … it is evident that Khrushchev was in trouble at home. The Chinese had also begun to assail him for being soft on the imperialists.— Alexander Darlin
4a : to trouble or afflict in a manner that threatens to overwhelm a man assailed by doubts/fears … but now a terrible fear began to assail me.— Bram Stoker Many diseases stemming from bacterial, fungal and parasitic infections can assail human as well as canine systems.— Tom Ewing
b : to be perceived by (a person, a person's senses, etc.) in a strongly noticeable and usually unpleasant way Here, too, is brought … all the waste stuff of the nation—everything that is subject to rot, and that can add to the foul stench that assails our nostrils.— Edgar Rice Burroughs

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Other Words from assail

assailable \ ə-​ˈsā-​lə-​bəl How to pronounce assail (audio) \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for assail

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. ommandos 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

Did you know?

Assail comes from an Anglo-French verb, assaillir, which itself traces back to the Latin verb assilire ("to leap upon"). "Assilire" combines the prefix ad- ("to, toward") with the Latin verb salire, meaning "to leap." When "assail" was first used in the 13th century, it meant "to make a violent physical attack upon." By the 1500s, English speakers were using the term to mean "to attack with words or arguments."

Examples of assail in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web And Cyber Ninjas could assail the county's election processes more broadly as well. Ronald J. Hansen, USA TODAY, 24 Sep. 2021 And Cyber Ninjas could assail the county's election processes more broadly as well. Ronald J. Hansen, The Arizona Republic, 24 Sep. 2021 Republicans took advantage of Sanders’ foray into their states to assail the plan, with conservative activists staging their own small rallies to stoke opposition. BostonGlobe.com, 5 Sep. 2021 The behemoths can assail your hero party at any time, thrashing passion, enthusiasm and confidence. Thomas Lim, Forbes, 30 Aug. 2021 But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, took the Senate floor on Monday to assail lawmakers for including Israel in their demands for a cease-fire. Arkansas Online, 18 May 2021 Some critics also assail critical race theory as a form of Marxism and an attempt to humiliate white students. Leslie Postal, orlandosentinel.com, 10 June 2021 But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, took the Senate floor on Monday to assail lawmakers for including Israel in their demands for a cease-fire. Anchorage Daily News, 18 May 2021 But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, took the Senate floor on Monday to assail lawmakers for including Israel in their demands for a cease-fire. Arkansas Online, 18 May 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'assail.' 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 assail

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for assail

Middle English, from Anglo-French assaillir, from Vulgar Latin *assalire, alteration of Latin assilire to leap upon, from ad- + salire to leap — more at sally

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Time Traveler for assail

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

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Dictionary Entries Near assail

assai

assail

assailant

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Last Updated

3 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Assail.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/assail. Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for assail

assail

verb
as·​sail | \ ə-ˈsāl How to pronounce assail (audio) \
assailed; assailing

Kids Definition of assail

1 : to attack violently or angrily with blows or words His plan was assailed by critics.
2 : to be troubled or bothered by assailed by doubts A horrible odor assailed my nose.

More from Merriam-Webster on assail

Nglish: Translation of assail for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of assail for Arabic Speakers

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