From Middle English assailen, from Old French asaillir, from Latin assiliō, from ad (towards) + saliō (to jump). See also assault.



assail (third-person singular simple present assails, present participle assailing, simple past and past participle assailed)

  1. (transitive) To attack with harsh words or violent force.
    Muggers assailed them as they entered an alley.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Qveene. [], London: Printed [by John Wolfe] for VVilliam Ponsonbie, OCLC 960102938, book I, canto VI, page 76:
      So when he ſaw his flatt’ring artes to ſayle, / And ſubtile engines bett from batteree, / With greedy force he gan the fort aſſayle, / Whereof he weend poſſeſe ſoone to bee / And win rich ſpoile of ranſackt chaſtitee.
    • 1897, Saki [Hector Hugh Munro], “The Storyteller”:
      For the next six months or so those children will assail her in public with demands for an improper story!