a. A violent physical attack, as with blows.
b. A strong or cutting verbal attack.
a. A military attack, such as one launched against a fortified area or place.
b. The concluding stage of an attack in which close combat occurs with the enemy.
a. An unlawful threat or attempt to do bodily injury to another.
b. The act or an instance of unlawfully threatening or attempting to injure another.
a. Sexual assault.
b. The crime of rape.
5. A rigorous or energetic effort to accomplish something difficult: an assault on the mountain's summit; an assault on poverty.
v. as·sault·ed, as·sault·ing, as·saults
1. To make a violent assault upon; attack. See Synonyms at attack.
2. To rape.
3. To attack verbally; criticize or denounce.
4. To harass or beset: assaulted by advertisements.
To make an assault.
[Middle English assaut, from Old French, from Vulgar Latin *assaltus, variant of Latin assultus, from past participle of assilīre, to jump on; see ASSAIL.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.