[am-boo sh]

noun Also am·bush·ment.

an act or instance of lying concealed so as to attack by surprise: The highwaymen waited in ambush near the road.
an act or instance of attacking unexpectedly from a concealed position.
the concealed position itself: They fired from ambush.
those who attack suddenly and unexpectedly from a concealed position.

verb (used with object)

to attack from ambush.

Origin of ambush

1250–1300; (v.) Middle English enbuss(h)en < Middle French embuschier to place men in ambush, literally, to set in the woods, equivalent to em- im-1 + busch- (< Vulgar Latin *busca wood, forest < Germanic *busk- heavy stick) + -ier infinitive suffix; (noun) earlier enbusshe < Middle French embusche, derivative of the v.
Related formsam·bush·er, nounam·bush·like, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for ambush

Contemporary Examples of ambush

Historical Examples of ambush

  • Firing from ambush and moving from place to place, he would seem more than one man.

  • No mountains are here, but this is a great country for ambush.

    The Rock of Chickamauga

    Joseph A. Altsheler

  • Besides, they can rake us with bullets from ambush, while we're climbing up the ridge.

    The Rock of Chickamauga

    Joseph A. Altsheler

  • We're only two, but we've got the advantage of the ambush, and that's a big one.

    The Rock of Chickamauga

    Joseph A. Altsheler

  • Darkness, the ambush and the caution of sharpshooters were there.

    The Rock of Chickamauga

    Joseph A. Altsheler

British Dictionary definitions for ambush



the act of waiting in a concealed position in order to launch a surprise attack
a surprise attack from such a position
the concealed position from which such an attack is launched
the person or persons waiting to launch such an attack


to lie in wait (for)
(tr) to attack suddenly from a concealed position
Derived Formsambusher, noun

Word Origin for ambush

C14: from Old French embuschier to position in ambush, from em- im- + -buschier, from busche piece of firewood, probably of Germanic origin; see bush 1
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

Word Origin and History for ambush

c.1300, from Old French embuscher (13c., Modern French embûcher) "to lay an ambush," from en- "in" + busch "wood," apparently from Frankish *busk "bush, woods" (see bush (n.)). Related: Ambushed; ambushing.


late 15c., embushe, from the English verb or from Middle French embusche, from Old French embuscher (see ambush (v.)). Earlier was ambushment (late 14c.). Figurative use by 1590s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper