View synonyms for attack


[ uh-tak ]

verb (used with object)

  1. to set upon in a forceful, violent, hostile, or aggressive way, with or without a weapon; begin fighting with:

    He attacked him with his bare hands.

    Synonyms: charge, storm

    Antonyms: defend

  2. to begin hostilities against; start an offensive against:

    to attack the enemy.

  3. to blame or abuse violently or bitterly.
  4. to direct unfavorable criticism against; criticize severely; argue with strongly:

    He attacked his opponent's statement.

    Synonyms: abuse, oppugn, impugn, censure

    Antonyms: defend

  5. to try to destroy, especially with verbal abuse:

    to attack the mayor's reputation.

  6. to set about (a task) or go to work on (a thing) vigorously:

    to attack housecleaning;

    to attack the hamburger hungrily.

  7. (of disease, destructive agencies, etc.) to begin to affect.

verb (used without object)

  1. to make an attack; begin hostilities.


  1. the act of attacking; onslaught; assault.

    Synonyms: encounter, onset

    Antonyms: defense

  2. a military offensive against an enemy or enemy position.
  3. Pathology. seizure by disease or illness:

    an attack of indigestion.

  4. the beginning or initiating of any action; onset.
  5. an aggressive move in a performance or contest.
  6. the approach or manner of approach in beginning a musical phrase.


/ əˈtæk /


  1. to launch a physical assault (against) with or without weapons; begin hostilities (with)
  2. intr to take the initiative in a game, sport, etc

    after a few minutes, the team began to attack

  3. tr to direct hostile words or writings at; criticize or abuse vehemently
  4. tr to turn one's mind or energies vigorously to (a job, problem, etc)
  5. tr to begin to injure or affect adversely; corrode, corrupt, or infect

    rust attacked the metal

  6. tr to attempt to rape


  1. the act or an instance of attacking
  2. strong criticism or abuse

    an unjustified attack on someone's reputation

  3. an offensive move in a game, sport, etc
  4. commencement of a task, etc
  5. any sudden and usually severe manifestation of a disease or disorder

    a heart attack

    an attack of indigestion

  6. the attack
    ball games the players in a team whose main role is to attack the opponents' goal or territory
  7. music decisiveness in beginning a passage, movement, or piece
  8. music the speed with which a note reaches its maximum volume
  9. an attempted rape
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Derived Forms

  • atˈtacker, noun
  • atˈtacking, adjective
  • atˈtackable, adjective
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Other Words From

  • at·tacka·ble adjective
  • at·tacker noun
  • nonat·tacking adjective
  • postat·tack adjective
  • proat·tack adjective
  • reat·tack verb
  • unat·tacka·ble adjective
  • unat·tacked adjective
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Word History and Origins

Origin of attack1

First recorded in 1590–1600; earlier atta(c)que, from Middle French atta(c)quer, from Italian attaccare “to attack”; attach
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Word History and Origins

Origin of attack1

C16: from French attaquer, from Old Italian attaccare to attack, attach, from estaccare to attach, from stacca stake 1; compare attach
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Synonym Study

Attack, assail, assault, molest all mean to set upon someone forcibly, with hostile or violent intent. Attack is the most general word and applies to a beginning of hostilities, especially those definitely planned: to attack from ambush. Assail implies vehement, sudden, and sometimes repeated attack: to assail with weapons or with gossip. Assault almost always implies bodily violence: to assault with intent to kill. To molest is to harass, to threaten, or to assault: He was safe, and where no one could molest him.
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Example Sentences

We are learning so much this week — not only about a shameful attack on our very government, but the shamelessness of the people who made it inevitable.

It seemed every time the Wizards mounted an attack, the Raptors responded with the same type of play — a far-too-easy three that bumped the score back into comfortable territory and sapped Washington’s energy at the same time.

Under pressure, Hogan launches effort to pay five exonerated prisoners Maryland exoneree suffers heart attack before testifying on compensation bill

As more and more processes and facilities gain remote and automated capabilities, this kind of attack becomes more of a concern.

Roy thinks it’s an attack on the right to note that a Republican member of Congress was one of hundreds of thousands of people with underlying conditions to die after contracting the virus.

“The institution of marraige [sic] is under attack in our society and it needs to be strengthened,” Bush wrote.

As soon as this attack [happened], Paris citizens came together to show were are not afraid, we are Charlie Hebdo.

It is grandstanding for a right rarely protected unless under immediate attack.

The comedian responded to the deadly attack on a French satirical magazine by renewing his recent criticisms of the Islamic faith.

It was also an attack on our freedom of expression and way of life.

In their shelter, Brion and Ulv crouched low and wondered why the attack didn't come.

On to Gaba Tepe just in time to see the opening, the climax and the end of the dreaded Turkish counter attack.

Then the enemy's howitzers and field guns had it all their own way, forcing attack to yield a lot of ground.

But the strength of his arm, and the bravery of his heart could not have defended him long against their determined attack.

Uric acid is decreased before an attack of gout and increased afterward, but its etiologic relation is still uncertain.


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More About Attack

What is a basic definition of attack?

Attack means to attempt to inflict harm with physical violence, to attempt to inflict harm with words, or to initiate a military offensive against another. Attack has many other senses as a verb and a noun.

Attack means to engage in physical violence against something with the intent to cause physical harm, damage, or death. Attacking doesn’t have to result in harm, however. For example, a person may be attacked by bees but manage to escape before actually getting stung. Someone or something that attacks is an attacker.

  • Real-life examples: A lion will attack with its claws and teeth. In the past, soldiers would attack each other with swords, axes, and other weapons. A scared person may attack a lamp thinking it is a burglar.
  • Used in a sentence: Ashley relentlessly attacked the piñata with a broom handle.

Attack can also mean to try to harm someone verbally. In this sense, attack means to assault someone with criticism, insults, or harsh comments. The attempted harm would be to a person’s feelings, opinions, or arguments.

  • Real-life examples: Politicians are often attacked by political opponents, critics, or even the media. Unfortunately, many people are often attacked by trolls and harassers on social media. Bad or unpopular ideas are often attacked for being impossible or foolish.
  • Used in a sentence: The unpopular director was attacked on social media by fans of the movie franchise.

Attack is also used in both senses as a noun.

  • Used in a sentence: I barely survived the alligator’s attack.
    The company president was outraged by the reporter’s attack on his integrity.

Attack can also mean to initiate acts of war or begin a military offensive. This sense can also be used as a noun.

  • Real-life examples: Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. In 1863, General Robert E. Lee attacked the Union army at Gettysburg during the American Civil War. At the Battle of Thermopylae, almost 7,000 Greek soldiers attempted to resist the Persians’ attack.
  • Used in a sentence: The United Nations was outraged by the country’s unprovoked attack of its neighbor.

Where does attack come from?

The first records of the term attack come from around the 1590s. It comes from the Italian verb attaccare, meaning “to attack” or “to attach.”

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What are some other forms related to attack?

  • attacker (noun)
  • attacking (adjective)
  • nonattacking (adjective)
  • attackable (adjective)
  • postattack (adjective)
  • proattack (adjective)
  • reattack (verb)
  • unattackable (adjective)
  • unattacked (adjective)

What are some synonyms for attack?

What are some words that share a root or word element with attack

What are some words that often get used in discussing attack?

How is attack used in real life?

Attack is a very common word that most often means to physically or verbally assault someone.

Try using attack!

Is attack used correctly in the following sentence?

I attacked the fence with a sledgehammer until it was a pile of broken wood.




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