[ uh-sawlt ]
/ əˈsɔlt /


a sudden, violent attack; onslaught: an assault on tradition.
Law. an unlawful physical attack upon another; an attempt or offer to do violence to another, with or without battery, as by holding a stone or club in a threatening manner.
Military. the stage of close combat in an attack.

verb (used with object)

to make an assault upon; attack; assail.

Origin of assault

1200–50; Middle English asaut < Old French < Medieval Latin assaltus (replacing Latin assultus), equivalent to Latin as- as- + saltus a leap (sal(īre) to leap + -tus suffix of v. action)

Related forms

Can be confused

assault battery

Synonym study

5. See attack. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for assault

British Dictionary definitions for assault


/ (əˈsɔːlt) /


a violent attack, either physical or verbal
law an intentional or reckless act that causes another person to expect to be subjected to immediate and unlawful violenceCompare battery (def. 4), assault and battery
  1. the culmination of a military attack, in which fighting takes place at close quarters
  2. (as modifier)assault troops
rape or attempted rape

verb (tr)

to make an assault upon
to rape or attempt to rape

Derived Forms

assaulter, nounassaultive, adjective

Word Origin for assault

C13: from Old French asaut, from Vulgar Latin assaltus (unattested), from assalīre (unattested) to leap upon; see assail
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