[ uh-seyl ]
See synonyms for: assailassailedassailingassailable on

verb (used with object)
  1. to attack vigorously or violently; assault.

  2. to attack with arguments, criticism, ridicule, abuse, etc.: to assail one's opponent with slander.

  1. to undertake with the purpose of mastering: He assailed his studies with new determination.

  2. 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

synonym study For assail

1. See attack.

Other words for assail

Other words from assail

  • as·sail·a·ble, adjective
  • as·sail·a·ble·ness, noun
  • as·sail·er, noun
  • as·sail·ment, noun
  • un·as·sailed, adjective
  • un·as·sail·ing, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use assail in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for assail


/ (əˈseɪl) /

  1. to attack violently; assault

  2. to criticize or ridicule vehemently, as in argument

  1. to beset or disturb: his mind was assailed by doubts

  2. to encounter with the intention of mastering: to assail a problem; to assail a difficult mountain ridge

Origin of assail

C13: from Old French asalir, from Vulgar Latin assalīre (unattested) to leap upon, from Latin assilīre, from salīre to leap

Derived forms of assail

  • assailable, adjective
  • assailer, noun
  • assailment, noun

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