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[uh-seyl] /əˈseɪl/
verb (used with object)
to attack vigorously or violently; assault.
to attack with arguments, criticism, ridicule, abuse, etc.:
to assail one's opponent with slander.
to undertake with the purpose of mastering:
He assailed his studies with new determination.
to impinge upon; make an impact on; beset:
His mind was assailed by conflicting arguments. The light assailed their eyes.
Origin of assail
1175-1225; Middle English asaylen < Old French asalir < Late Latin assalīre, equivalent to Latin as- as- + salīre to leap, spring
Related forms
assailable, adjective
assailableness, noun
assailer, noun
assailment, noun
unassailed, adjective
unassailing, adjective
2. asperse, malign.
Synonym Study
1. See attack. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for assailable
Historical Examples
  • In these points we were "assailable;" we had "too long and too tenaciously" resisted British rights.

    Martin Van Buren Edward M. Shepard
  • She was assailable;—and, as this was so, why the mischief should he not set about the work at once?

    The Belton Estate Anthony Trollope
  • Yet Grenville apparently never dreamt that his position was assailable.

    Farmer George, Volume 1 Lewis Melville
  • The north and west sides are the most assailable parts of the city.

    Letters from Palestine J. D. Paxton
  • Martin was that species of man which, of all others, is most assailable by flattery.

  • It was a painful case; but the chain of inference was not assailable.

    The Lord of the Sea M. P. Shiel
  • But he soon found that the position extended too far southward to be assailable by his limited forces.

    The Relief of Mafeking Filson Young
  • I asked him to make the reconnoissance and designate the assailable points.

    From Manassas to Appomattox James Longstreet
  • He prepared for both contingencies, posting careful men at every assailable point.

    The Frontier Fort W. H. G. Kingston
  • In other words, Mrs. Sowler's head was only assailable by hot grog, when hot grog was administered in large quantities.

    The Fallen Leaves Wilkie Collins
British Dictionary definitions for assailable


verb (transitive)
to attack violently; assault
to criticize or ridicule vehemently, as in argument
to beset or disturb: his mind was assailed by doubts
to encounter with the intention of mastering: to assail a problem, to assail a difficult mountain ridge
Derived Forms
assailable, adjective
assailer, noun
assailment, noun
Word Origin
C13: from Old French asalir, from Vulgar Latin assalīre (unattested) to leap upon, from Latin assilīre, from salīre to leap
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for assailable



c.1200, from Old French assalir "attack, assault, assail" (12c., Modern French assaillir), from Vulgar Latin *adsalire "to leap at," from Latin ad- "at" (see ad-) + salire "to leap" (see salient (adj.)). Figurative use from mid-14c. Related: Assailed; assailing; assailable.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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