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attack

Line breaks: at¦tack
Pronunciation: /əˈtak
 
/

Definition of attack in English:

verb

[with object]
1Take aggressive military action against (a place or enemy forces) with weapons or armed force: in February the Germans attacked Verdun [no object]: the terrorists did not attack again until March
More example sentences
  • The government deployed additional military forces to attack terrorist strongholds.
  • While the band was waiting for authorization to enter the States as working musicians, terrorists attacked the World Trade Centre.
  • The Blackfoot became respected as an aggressive military force, attacking and destroying several trading posts in their territory.
Synonyms
begin an assault, charge, pounce, strike, begin hostilities, ambush;
bombard, shell, blitz, strafe, fire on/at;
rush, storm
1.1Act against (someone or something) aggressively in an attempt to injure or kill: a doctor was attacked by two youths
More example sentences
  • Police said the man was shot and killed when he attempted to attack police.
  • She also assured us that the jaguar is not a man-eater - in fact there are no recorded cases of a person being attacked or killed by a jaguar in an unprovoked situation.
  • But immediately after the elections violence broke out and several houses were set on fire and people were attacked and killed.
Synonyms
assault, beat, beat up, batter, thrash, pound, pummel, assail, set upon, fall upon, set about, strike at, let fly at, tear into, lash out at;
ambush, mug, pounce on
informal jump, paste, do over, work over, knock about/around, rough up, lay into, lace into, sail into, pitch into, get stuck into, beat the living daylights out of, let someone have it
British informal have a go at, duff someone up
North American informal beat up on, light into
1.2(Of a disease, chemical, or insect) act harmfully on: HIV is thought to attack certain cells in the brain
More example sentences
  • Leaves attacked by insects or disease, on the other hand, die under duress, spotted and curled.
  • The lack of nutrients in the white-sand soil means that plants cannot afford to be attacked by insects, because lost leaf tissue is difficult to replace.
  • Relieving stress made sense to me because in my work I had seen that plants under stress were the ones most likely to be attacked by diseases and pests.
Synonyms
affect, have an effect on, strike, strike at, take hold of, infect;
damage, injure
2Criticize or oppose fiercely and publicly: he attacked the government’s defence policy
More example sentences
  • The play was fiercely attacked by critics and made headline news in the tabloids.
  • She is now making a television programme which attacks those who oppose fox hunting.
  • He was fiercely attacked, and even some figures who privately sympathized with his views were too cowed to defend him publicly.
Synonyms
criticize, censure, condemn, castigate, chastise, lambaste, pillory, savage, find fault with, fulminate against, abuse;
informal knock, slam, take to pieces, pull apart, crucify, bash, hammer, lay into, tear into, sail into, roast, give someone a roasting, cane, blast, bawl out, dress down, rap over the knuckles, have a go at, give someone hell
North American informal chew out, ream out, pummel, cut up
Australian/New Zealand informal bag
British vulgar slang bollock, give someone a bollocking
dated rate
archaic slash
3Begin to deal with (a problem or task) in a determined and vigorous way: a plan of action to attack unemployment
More example sentences
  • Is there something that you would suggest be put in place that would begin to attack that problem?
  • Overnight some of the mail team began attacking the problem.
  • If we truly want to effect change on an aging business practice and culture, we need to attack the problem from both within and without.
Synonyms
attend to, address, see to, deal with, grapple with, confront, direct one's attention to, focus on, concentrate on, apply oneself to;
buckle down to, get to work on, go to work on, set to work on, set about, get started on, undertake, embark on
informal get stuck into, get cracking on, get weaving on, have a crack at, have a go at, have a shot at, have a stab at
4 [no object] (In sport) make a forceful attempt to score a goal or point or otherwise gain an advantage against an opposing team or player: Crystal Palace attacked swiftly down the left (as adjective attacking) Leeds showed some good attacking play
More example sentences
  • England scored in the first half, then tried to defend the advantage in the second half, but Brazil attacked well and scored twice.
  • It's being played at a terrific pace by two teams intent on attacking.
  • The crowds get excited when their teams attack - even when they are winning.
4.1 [with object] Chess Move into or be in a position to capture (an opponent’s piece or pawn): the white queen attacks the black rook
More example sentences
  • A Queen move which attacks a guarded pawn is not usually a threat since taking the pawn next move usually results in loss of material.
  • But this resulted in the immediate loss of a piece as Adams took a pawn with his bishop attacking the black queen.
  • No matter how many times he attacks the pawn, White can defend.

noun

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1An aggressive and violent act against a person or place: he was killed in an attack on a checkpoint three classrooms were gutted in the arson attack the north-western suburbs came under attack in the latest fighting
More example sentences
  • They were shot as they launched an attack on the police station using guns and a bomb in the bucket of a mechanical digger.
  • Last week, terrorists launched an attack on government facilities in Saudi Arabia.
  • Five teenagers have been charged following an attack on a police officer which left him needing 10 stitches to his head.
Synonyms
act of aggression
historical razzia
archaic onset
1.1 [mass noun] Destructive action by a disease, chemical, or insect: the tissue is open to attack by fungus
More example sentences
  • Second, look at the underlying cause related to the pest or disease attack.
  • Potatoes, particularly varieties grown for seed, are treated with insecticide to control attack from aphids.
  • Helps plants withstand attacks by disease and insects by enhancing naturally occurring microbial agents.
1.2A determined attempt to tackle a problem or task: an attack on inflation
More example sentences
  • I am determined to use my national responsibilities to launch a concerted attack on truancy and ill discipline in schools.
  • They generated a high-profile attack on muggers, which involved every interested government department.
  • In this context, it is much more than a scientific venture: it is a direct attack on poverty and the disparities between rich and poor.
1.3 [mass noun] Forceful and decisive style in performing music or another art: the sheer attack of Hendrix’s playing
More example sentences
  • I think the energy of it, not having an intermission on stage, and just the harsh sonic attack of the music, was great.
  • There's a sharpness and attack to her performances, which ensures a sense of drive.
2An instance of fierce public criticism or opposition: he launched a stinging attack on the Prime Minister
More example sentences
  • His sporadic cinematic output has been combined with fierce public attacks on the general media situation.
  • The Opposition Leader intensified his attack on the Prime Minister, insisting he had lied to the public.
  • In a fierce attack on both Labour and the Tories, he urged all parties to reach a consensus on how the NHS should be managed.
Synonyms
condemnation, denunciation, revilement;
invective, vilification;
tirade, diatribe, rant, polemic, broadside, harangue, verbal onslaught, stricture
informal knocking, telling-off, dressing-down, rap over the knuckles, earful, roasting, rollicking, caning
British informal rocket, wigging, slating, ticking off, carpeting, bashing, blast
British vulgar slang bollocking
dated rating
rare philippic
3A sudden short bout of an illness or stress: an attack of nausea an asthma attack
More example sentences
  • There was a past history of migraine attacks and bouts of coughing.
  • The illness results in recurrent attacks of chills and fever and can be deadly.
  • Collins suffered from severe attacks of a rheumatic illness which caused him great pain, only relieved by the use of opium.
Synonyms
4(In sport) an aggressive attempt to score a goal or point or otherwise gain an advantage: a Cardiff attack broke down inside Llanelli’s 22 [mass noun]: United hardly did a thing in attack
More example sentences
  • Smith dominated play from the start but after numerous attacks on goal failed to score.
  • There was no sense of urgency from either team in the first half, with the game characterised by sporadic attacks at goals.
  • Dundee grew ragged under the weight of repeated attacks on their goal.
4.1British The players in a team who are in the position of trying to score a goal or win points: Baxter was recalled to the attack
More example sentences
  • It pitched the team with the finest defence against the team with the finest attack.
  • Nel added that the South African team had a different attack, with different dimensions, for the last Test.
  • Man of the Match went to Paula Clayton who led the attack and was a central player in an excellent team performance.
4.2 Chess A threat to capture an opponent’s piece or pawn: the move opens up an attack from the black bishop against White’s knight
More example sentences
  • In the Yugoslav it is generally correct for Black to attack with pieces and not pawns, because pawn attacks tend to be too slow.
  • Herbert Lockwood, who sacrificed a piece for two pawns and an attack that his opponent could not defend, gained the final point.
  • White has two ways of giving up a piece for the attack in the main line, and they're both looking as deadly as ever.

Origin

early 17th century: from French attaque (noun), attaquer (verb), from Italian attacco 'an attack', attaccare 'join battle', based on an element of Germanic origin (see attach).

More
  • This is from French attaquer (from Italian attaccare ‘join battle’). The base is an element of Germanic origin shared by attach (Middle English); ‘joining’ is a key sense.

Definition of attack in:

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