assault

noun
as·​sault | \ ə-ˈsȯlt How to pronounce assault (audio) \

Essential Meaning of assault

1 law : the crime of trying or threatening to hurt someone physically He was accused of assault. = He was charged with assault. = Assault charges were brought against him. She was wanted (by the police) for assault with a deadly weapon. He was found guilty of sexual assault. [=the crime of touching someone in an unwanted sexual way]
2 : a violent physical attack She was injured in a brutal assault.
3 : a military attack They launched several air assaults [=attacks using airplanes] against the enemy. They got ready for an enemy assault. [=an attack by the enemy]

Full 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

Synonyms: Verb

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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. 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

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 What some New Hampshire legislators see is a deliberate, organized assault on democracy. BostonGlobe.com, 15 Oct. 2021 Nor is it intended to be merely an assault on Churchill. Geoffrey Wheatcroft, The New Republic, 14 Oct. 2021 During the four-hour standoff, police had secured warrants against the male for assault and attempted murder of a police officer. Howard Koplowitz | Hkoplowitz@al.com, al, 14 Oct. 2021 The judge said Lewis has been in several fights while in custody, and was recently re-arrested for felony assault over his involvement in a slashing with another inmate. Victoria Albert, CBS News, 14 Oct. 2021 Gibbs' character started distancing from his NCIS team last season after being suspended for the assault of a man who abused dogs. Elise Brisco, USA TODAY, 12 Oct. 2021 At his sentencing in January for assault on a federal officer, he was placed on one year of probation after having earlier served 60 days in jail. oregonlive, 9 Oct. 2021 The Huntington Beach oil spill is an assault on top of many other assaults on our environment. Sean Anderson, CNN, 5 Oct. 2021 Weisman said there was a misdemeanor assault at Third and Sycamore streets right before the fireworks show, but no arrests on the Riverfront. Cameron Knight, The Enquirer, 8 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Melvin was arrested on charges of failure to obey and assault on a police officer, Capitol Police said in a statement. NBC News, 5 Oct. 2021 Alameda County prosecutors dropped hate crime charges previously levied against a man accused of attacking the president of the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce after the man agreed to plead no contest to assault charges. Sam Whiting, San Francisco Chronicle, 16 Sep. 2021 An arms expert told CNN these would normally be used in light machine guns and assault rifles like those seen in the massacre video. Amir Vera And Maria Cartaya, CNN, 10 Aug. 2021 Garces was charged with negligent operation of a motor vehicle, leaving the scene of a crash after causing property damage, and assault with a dangerous weapon. BostonGlobe.com, 14 July 2021 James Halsell, 64, of Huntsville, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and assault in the deaths of two young girls in a car crash. William Thornton | Wthornton@al.com, al, 27 May 2021 And when officers brutally assault or kill innocent, unarmed, defenseless Black victims, more often than not the police face little-to-no accountability. David Love, CNN, 30 Sep. 2021 And then there’s Larry Elder, about whom one is allowed to say almost anything—and even attempt to physically assault—without much fear of media condemnation. James Freeman, WSJ, 9 Sep. 2021 Trump’s lashing out went beyond yelling at Pence to inspiring his supporters to assault the Capitol. Washington Post, 17 Sep. 2021

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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Time Traveler for assault

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near assault

assation

assault

assaultable

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Statistics for assault

Last Updated

22 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Assault.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/assault. Accessed 27 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for assault

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 assault (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

More from Merriam-Webster on assault

Nglish: Translation of assault for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of assault for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about assault

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