English

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Etymology

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From Middle English assaut, from Old French noun assaut, derived from the past participle of the verb assalir, from Late Latin assalīre, from Latin ad (at, towards) + salīre (jump). See also assail. Spelling Latinized around 1530 to add an l.

Pronunciation

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Noun

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assault (countable and uncountable, plural assaults)

 
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  1. A violent onset or attack with physical means, for example blows, weapons, etc.
    The army made an assault on the enemy.
    • 1855–1858, William H[ickling] Prescott, History of the Reign of Philip the Second, King of Spain, volumes (please specify |volume=I to III), Boston, Mass.: Phillips, Sampson, and Company, →OCLC:
      The Spanish general prepared to renew the assault.
    • 1814, William Wordsworth, The Excursion, Book 5:
      Unshaken bears the assault / Of their most dreaded foe, the strong southwest.
    • 2008, BioWare, Mass Effect, Redwood City: Electronic Arts, →ISBN, →OCLC, PC, scene: Batarians Codex entry:
      Hostilities peaked with the Skyllian Blitz of 2176, an attack on the human capital of Elysium by batarian-funded pirates and slavers. In 2178, the Alliance retaliated with a crushing assault on the moon of Torfan, long used as a staging base by batarian-backed criminals. In the aftermath, the batarians retreated into their own systems, and are now rarely seen in Citadel space.
  2. A violent verbal attack, for example with insults, criticism, and the like
    she launched a written assault on the opposition party
  3. (criminal law) An attempt to commit battery: a violent attempt, or willful effort with force or violence, to do hurt to another, but without necessarily touching the person, such as by raising a fist in a threatening manner, or by striking at the person and missing.
  4. (singular only, law) The crime whose action is such an attempt.
  5. (tort law) An act that causes someone to apprehend imminent bodily harm (such as brandishing a weapon).
  6. (singular only, law) The tort whose action is such an act.
  7. (fencing) A non-competitive combat between two fencers.

Synonyms

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Coordinate terms

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Derived terms

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Compound words and expressions

Translations

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Verb

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assault (third-person singular simple present assaults, present participle assaulting, simple past and past participle assaulted)

  1. (transitive) To attack, physically or figuratively; to assail.
    Tom was accused of assaulting another man outside a nightclub.
    Loud music assaulted our ears as we entered the building.
  2. (transitive) To threaten or harass. (Can we add an example for this sense?)

Derived terms

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Translations

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References

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Middle French

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Noun

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assault m (plural assauls)

  1. (chiefly military) assault; attack

Descendants

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  • French: assaut