[ uh-sawlt ]
See synonyms for: assaultassaultedassaulter on

  1. a sudden, violent attack; onslaught: an assault on tradition.

  2. 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.

  1. Military. the stage of close combat in an attack.

verb (used with object)
  1. to make an assault upon; attack; assail.

Origin of assault

First recorded in 1200–50; Middle English asaut, from Old French, from Medieval Latin assaltus “attacked,” past participle of assalīre “to attack, jump on,” replacing Latin assilīre, both ultimately from Latin as- as- + salīre “to jump, leap”

synonym study For assault

5. See attack.

Other words for assault

Other words from assault

  • as·sault·a·ble, adjective
  • as·sault·er, noun
  • coun·ter·as·sault, verb (used with object), noun
  • non·as·sault, noun
  • un·as·sault·a·ble, adjective
  • un·as·sault·ed, adjective

Words that may be confused with assault Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use assault in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for assault


/ (əˈsɔːlt) /

  1. a violent attack, either physical or verbal

  2. law an intentional or reckless act that causes another person to expect to be subjected to immediate and unlawful violence: Compare battery (def. 4), assault and battery

    • the culmination of a military attack, in which fighting takes place at close quarters

    • (as modifier): assault troops

  1. rape or attempted rape

  1. to make an assault upon

  2. to rape or attempt to rape

Origin of assault

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

Derived forms of assault

  • assaulter, noun
  • assaultive, adjective

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