Definition of assail in English:


Syllabification: as·sail
Pronunciation: /əˈsāl


[with object]
  • 1Make a concerted or violent attack on: the Scots army assailed Edward’s army from the rear
    More example sentences
    • They approached warily, as though the food might leap up and assail their gullets violently.
    • Only then would the Assault Transports assail the station with their mere 250 Marines.
    • As one historian wrote, ‘All forms of property were assailed, all signs of wealth and privilege were attacked.’
    attack, assault, pounce on, set upon/about, fall on, charge, rush, storm
    informal lay into, tear into, pitch into
  • 1.1 (usually be assailed) (Of an unpleasant feeling or physical sensation) come upon (someone) suddenly and strongly: she was assailed by doubts and regrets
    More example sentences
    • Mixed feelings could assail you in relation to love.
    • New emotions assailed her so strongly she dropped to her knees with a moan.
    • He slid his arm around her and pulled her closer, closing his eyes under the feelings assailing him.
    plague, torment, rack, beset, dog, trouble, disturb, worry, bedevil, nag, vex
  • 1.2Criticize (someone) strongly.
    More example sentences
    • At a time when the Government is assailed by criticism and controversy, and when the Prime Minister's reputation is under such continuous attack, one would expect the opposition to be riding on a wave of success.
    • Critics have assailed the lack of political leadership in all this.
    • Why take risks, when the very name of the opera secures sold-out performances, assuming the critics don't assail it, or the conservative crowds don't shun it?



More example sentences
  • And taste is now a far weaker, more assailable notion than it was in the late eighteenth century.
  • He looked alien, almost other worldly - and so desperately assailable.
  • None had the training or experience to deal with a battlefield dominated by machine guns and artillery - a battlefield, which offered no assailable flanks as their soldiers dug in to escape the fury of mass industrial warfare.


Middle English: from Old French asaill-, stressed stem of asalir, from medieval Latin assalire, from Latin assilire, from ad- 'to' + salire 'to leap'; compare with assault.

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