Definition of assail in English:



[with object]
  • 1Make a concerted or violent attack on.

    ‘the Scots army assailed Edward's army from the rear’
    • ‘Knowing that his brother is frail, and more suited to school than to the front, he assails the train that is destined to take his sibling to the front lines.’
    • ‘They approached warily, as though the food might leap up and assail their gullets violently.’
    • ‘The player is armed with a gun - most fortunately, because he is being assailed by a seemingly unending succession of zombies.’
    • ‘The sea does not split, nor does the earth swallow up the terrorists who assail us every day.’
    • ‘To attack the first is not to assail the last - said Charlotte Bronte, English novelist’
    • ‘The two of them are seemingly set on assailing the South African population on as many fronts as possible.’
    • ‘Only then would the Assault Transports assail the station with their mere 250 Marines.’
    • ‘So the same Opposition that's assailing the Government for not dealing with crime would go ballistic if they found out that the Minister and his men were using unorthodox methods to rid us of the devils in the society.’
    • ‘As one historian wrote, ‘All forms of property were assailed, all signs of wealth and privilege were attacked.’’
    • ‘On Fifth and Sixth Avenues, cutting the length of Manhattan, are gauntlets of flag-sellers assailing vehicles at every stop light.’
    • ‘This was a particularly risky means of concluding a siege as the attackers using ladders would be continually assailed from above on their climb up the walls.’
    • ‘They spread hatred for us with a psychotic mass murderer and then they assailed the capital and when we moved to accost them they mysteriously withdrew.’
    • ‘Yet her next note spoke of storms assailing the cottage and turbulence of fears and loneliness.’
    • ‘The wind is blustering through the trees outside, and every so often assails the outside walls of my house as if testing their fortitude.’
    • ‘The crowd became angry and quickly began assailing the police.’
    • ‘He is quickly running out of excuses as to why his ministry has failed to make a dent in the plethora of criminal activity assailing the country.’
    attack, assault, make an assault on, launch an attack on, pounce on, set upon, set about, launch oneself at, weigh into, fly at, let fly at, turn on, round on, lash out at, hit out at, beset, belabour, fall on, accost, mug, charge, rush, storm, besiege
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 (of an unpleasant feeling or physical sensation) come upon (someone) suddenly and strongly.
      ‘she was assailed by doubts and regrets’
      • ‘I remember the feelings that assailed me when I heard about the crash, even before the humanising details emerged - the names, the ages, the family circumstances.’
      • ‘The strain of looking at him hurts so I turn my eyes in an easier direction, doubt assailing me.’
      • ‘As I visited old haunts I was once again assailed by familiar feelings of disgust.’
      • ‘Ringing bells, whirring motors and flickering lights assailed the senses as one entered the darkened gallery from the street.’
      • ‘New emotions assailed her so strongly she dropped to her knees with a moan.’
      • ‘Beware of any impulses that assail you.’
      • ‘As the old patterns die in their minds and the new ones begin to take shape, people are assailed by self-doubt and misgivings about their leaders.’
      • ‘He slid his arm around her and pulled her closer, closing his eyes under the feelings assailing him.’
      • ‘Terrors assailed him, tumbling over one another.’
      • ‘Mixed feelings could assail you in relation to love.’
      • ‘For example, over a good fifty yards of my walk to the station today I was assailed by an unbelievably strong smell… of Parmesan.’
      • ‘Suddenly, unwanted mental images assailed her, forcing her to swallow hard and blink to keep from reacting.’
      • ‘Suddenly, she was assailed with a wave of dizziness.’
      • ‘Whatever the cause, the patient is assailed by the terrifying feeling of being out of control.’
      • ‘As you finally ascend the topmost mast, a faint vertigo assails you, but the adrenaline is buzzing.’
      • ‘When doubts assailed him, he got many scriptural reinforcements: ‘It is I, be not afraid - be not faithless, but believing.’’
      • ‘He started to get up and groaned aloud as all sorts of aches and pains assailed him.’
      • ‘Suddenly I was assailed by overwhelming apprehension.’
      • ‘However, when he woke up the following morning he was assailed by what he thought was ‘an unusual resinous smell’.’
      • ‘We believe, though we are constantly assailed with doubt.’
      trouble, disturb, worry, plague, beset, torture, torment, rack, bedevil, nag, vex, harass, pester, dog
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 Criticize strongly.
      ‘he assailed a group of editors for their alleged excesses’
      • ‘Why take risks, when the very name of the opera secures sold-out performances, assuming the critics don't assail it, or the conservative crowds don't shun it?’
      • ‘Before the last elections, lawmakers of both parties were on their hind legs assailing these traitors, promising action!’
      • ‘That statement assailed his position against abortion, contraception, sterilization, women's rights, divorce, stem cell research and gay rights.’
      • ‘He assails the flow of private money into campaigns; he sides with portions of the corporate political agenda.’
      • ‘At a time when the Government is assailed by criticism and controversy, and when the Prime Minister's reputation is under such continuous attack, one would expect the opposition to be riding on a wave of success.’
      • ‘The book sold well and rapidly became fashionable, but was assailed in various critical pamphlets for length, tedium, and doubtful morality.’
      • ‘Beyond the forces of sheer entertainment, the director doesn't pull punches in his assailing the church.’
      • ‘Critics have assailed the law since its inception.’
      • ‘It also assails the ideas of size and ingenuity, and, significantly, calls for full corporate compliance with a growing body of state regulation.’
      • ‘Moving with precise coordination, the Arbiters pounced upon their prey, assailing him with stinging strikes of their daggers.’
      • ‘Although the open admissions policy was weakened, its critics continued to assail it.’
      • ‘I didn't expect Tim to actually like the show (since he usually assails everything I watch with a sort of good-humoured mockery), but he'd sit down and watch it with me and even ask me to tape it when he had to go out.’
      • ‘Critics have assailed the lack of political leadership in all this.’
      • ‘Critics assailed the commission, as well as a number of state and local organizations, for commercializing centennial activities.’
      • ‘The red-baiting demagogue who publicly made wild, unsubstantiated charges assailing victims' patriotism proved no match for the fact-checking investigative reporter.’
      • ‘The film succeeds a little, if without imagination, in assailing the assumptions and hypocrisy of privileged white folks, but the film indulges its own presuppositions.’
      • ‘The energetic outsiders were true-blue conservatives who assailed the old guard and occasionally defeated their incumbents in primaries or as third-party challengers.’
      • ‘Twelve percentage points behind in the polls, assailed by the left of his party for being too strident in reforming the welfare state, and with virtually every leader of industry set against him, things are looking up.’
      • ‘I also conveyed our deep regret over the tendency of some Australian officials to continue to defy the policies by assailing the policies of other countries.’
      criticize, censure, attack, condemn, castigate, chastise, berate, lambaste, lash, pillory, find fault with, abuse, revile, give someone a bad press
      View synonyms


Middle English: from Old French asaill-, stressed stem of asalir, from medieval Latin assalire, from Latin assilire, from ad- ‘to’ + salire ‘to leap’; compare with assault.