Definition of assault in English:

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Pronunciation: /əˈsôlt/


[with object]
1Make a physical attack on: he pleaded guilty to assaulting a police officer she was sexually assaulted as a child
More example sentences
  • He later pleaded guilty to assaulting a police officer and was sentenced to one day in jail.
  • He pleaded guilty to assaulting the sergeant on June 24.
  • A teaching assistant has been cleared of assaulting a teenager who bombarded his house with snowballs.
attack, hit, strike, punch, beat up, thump;
pummel, pound, batter
informal clout, wallop, belt, clobber, hammer, bop, sock, deck, slug, plug, lay into, do over, rough up
literary smite
rape, sexually assault, molest
1.1Attack or bombard (someone or the senses) with something undesirable or unpleasant: her right ear was assaulted with a tide of music
More example sentences
  • The thunder of footsteps assaulted her ears as she wrenched open the door, eyes flashing with ire.
  • The wind picked up suddenly and the familiar beat of a helicopter assaulted her ears.
  • Before I got very far, however, an unpleasant sight assaulted me.
1.2Carry out a military attack or raid on (an enemy position): they left their strong position to assault the hill
More example sentences
  • Subsequent reports indicated he probably died from friendly fire, although still while trying to heroically assault an enemy position.
  • You have to assault an enemy position but also prevent bombs from going off or files from being destroyed.
  • When the enemy attacked on 3 September, they assaulted his position with grenades.
attack, assail, pounce on, set upon, strike, fall on, swoop on, rush, storm, besiege


1A physical attack: his imprisonment for an assault on the film director sexual assaults
More example sentences
  • Less than three weeks later he was reported for a physical assault on a young boy.
  • Physical assault on women by intimate partners is recognized widely as a leading cause of injury to women in the United States.
  • Other recent violent attacks include an assault on a couple who asked two boys to switch off their mobile phones during a film.
battery, violence;
sexual assault, rape
1.1 Law An act, criminal or tortious, that threatens physical harm to a person, whether or not actual harm is done: he appeared in court charged with assault
More example sentences
  • In that case the appellant had been convicted of assault occasioning actual bodily harm by harassing his female victim.
  • The father was charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm, but was acquitted.
  • He has previous convictions for theft, robbery and assault causing actual bodily harm.
1.2A military attack or raid on an enemy position: troops began an assault on the city [as modifier]: an assault boat
More example sentences
  • On another occasion during his 11-month tour he led three assaults on an enemy position until it finally fell.
  • He might have escaped when the boats first started the assault on the house.
  • A military assault on the country cannot be ruled out - at least in the long term.
attack, strike, onslaught, offensive, charge, push, thrust, invasion, bombardment, sortie, incursion, raid, blitz, campaign
informal beatdown
1.3A strong verbal attack: the assault on the party’s tax policies
More example sentences
  • Chris then waited four seconds before resuming his verbal assault on Patrick's frayed nerves.
  • Reid nodded before continuing his verbal assault on the clerk.
  • Beginning in the fall of 2002, university administrators began a verbal assault on students and faculty supporting divestment.
2A concerted attempt to do something demanding: a winter assault on Mt. Everest
More example sentences
  • After breakfast, and another sitting, I bundled up and attempted the assault on Marga Point.
  • These are hectic days for him and the Irish Chamber Orchestra is now primed for a serious assault on the competitive world of concert performances.



Example sentences
  • So I'm spending part of my time with the assaulters.
  • Police are still searching for that assaulter.
  • The incident was reported to police, and the girl received ‘compensation’ from her assaulters, as is common in Thailand.


Middle English: from Old French asaut (noun), assauter (verb), based on Latin ad- 'to' + saltare, frequentative of salire 'to leap'. Compare with assail.

  • salient from mid 16th century:

    This was first used as a heraldic term meaning ‘leaping’. It comes from Latin salire ‘to leap’. The sense ‘outstanding, significant’ as in salient point is found from the mid 19th century. Salire is behind many other English words including assail and assault (Middle English) ‘jumping on’ people; exult (late 16th century) ‘jump up’; insult; and result (Late Middle English) originally meaning ‘to jump back’. Salacious (mid 17th century) ‘undue interest in sexual matters’ is based on Latin salax, from salire. Its basic sense is ‘fond of leaping’, but as the word was used of stud animals it came to mean ‘lustful’. From the French form of salire come to sally out (mid 16th century) and sauté (early 19th century).

Words that rhyme with assault

Balt, exalt, fault, halt, malt, salt, smalt, vault

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: as·sault

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