Definition of ambush in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈambo͝oSH/


A surprise attack by people lying in wait in a concealed position: seven members of a patrol were killed in an ambush kidnappers waiting in ambush
More example sentences
  • There have been frequent attacks on livestock too, with crocodiles waiting in ambush near the river bank.
  • Barracuda and dogtooth tuna are a common sight along these edges just cruising or lying in ambush.
  • He could only see one metal wall, so he had no idea of how well it was guarded or if an ambush was waiting for him.
surprise attack, trap
archaic ambuscade


[with object]
1Make a surprise attack on (someone) from a concealed position: they were ambushed and taken prisoner by the enemy
More example sentences
  • So while we were in the cart, some of my soldiers ambushed the officers and stole their uniforms.
  • I think they might have let me know in advance what they were planning instead of ambushing me, don't you?
  • Perhaps we have stumbled upon a party intent on ambushing us and raiding our lands.
attack by surprise, surprise, pounce on, fall upon, lay a trap for, set an ambush for, lie in wait for, waylay, bushwhack
archaic ambuscade
1.1Confront (someone) suddenly and unexpectedly with unwelcome questions: representatives were ambushed by camera crews
More example sentences
  • Sam Newman asked Malthouse directly why Collingwood had ambushed Williams at the tribunal.
  • Mr Blair was first ambushed by dripping Evening Press chief reporter Mike Laycock during his visit to flood-hit York.
  • Only at the last minute was he ambushed by the idiotic baying for "tax cuts" we were never going to be able to afford.


Middle English (in the sense 'place troops in hiding in order to surprise an enemy'): from Old French embusche (noun), embuschier (verb), based on a late Latin word meaning 'to place in a wood'; related to bush1. The noun use dates from the late 15th century.

  • Ambush is from Old French embusche, based on late Latin inboscare from ‘in’ and boscus ‘wood’ also source of bush (Middle English) and bosky (late 16th century). It also gave French bouquet ‘clump of trees’, which entered English meaning ‘bunch of flowers’. The use of bouquet for the aroma from wine dates from the mid 19th century.

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Syllabification: am·bush

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