Definition of assault in English:



  • 1 Make a physical attack on.

    ‘he pleaded guilty to assaulting a police officer’
    ‘she was sexually assaulted as a child’
    • ‘Several activists were even assaulted by delegates who punched and kicked them before the Secret Service arrested them.’
    • ‘The Executive is considering introducing legislation to make it an offence to obstruct or assault any emergency worker carrying out his or her job.’
    • ‘A teaching assistant has been cleared of assaulting a teenager who bombarded his house with snowballs.’
    • ‘He also assaulted a woman by slapping her when she refused to give him money.’
    • ‘Apparently, on Sunday, August 18, he assaulted his wife, beating her up pretty badly.’
    • ‘One of the allegations was that an educator was still using corporal punishment and had recently assaulted learners by slapping and punching them.’
    • ‘When military forces are assaulting civilians, commanders often try to prevent media from telling true stories with pictures and words.’
    • ‘The claimant was a police officer who alleged that a fellow police officer sexually assaulted her while they were both off duty.’
    • ‘Police today retraced the steps of a vicious gang who assaulted two guards before raiding a security van for thousands of pounds of cash.’
    • ‘In August last year staff were threatened by gunmen and customers made to lie on the floor by four men who stole thousands of pounds and assaulted one worker.’
    • ‘He later pleaded guilty to assaulting a police officer and was sentenced to one day in jail.’
    • ‘He pleaded guilty to assaulting the sergeant on June 24.’
    • ‘In the parking lot of the center, Alice was assaulted, knocked down, and her purse was stolen.’
    • ‘Police were today hunting two men after a man was viciously assaulted and knocked unconscious outside a nightspot.’
    • ‘Militants assaulted business managers and extorted money they claimed was compensation for unfair dismissals.’
    • ‘But his character towards her quickly changed as he began regularly assaulting her, including punching her in the stomach causing her to lose their baby.’
    • ‘Groups of teenagers slap or otherwise assault unsuspecting members of the public and record the incident on their camera phones.’
    • ‘The men assaulted the guards, knocking the male to the floor and kicking and punching him while pointing a gun at him.’
    • ‘As a teenager, he faced his first court judgement after assaulting the local parish priest.’
    • ‘The gang assaulted the couple with clubs, pliers and a torch.’
    rape, sexually assault, molest, interfere with
    hit, strike, physically attack, aim blows at, slap, smack, beat, thrash, spank, thump, thwack, punch, cuff, swat, knock, rap
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    1. 1.1Attack or bombard (someone or the senses) with something undesirable or unpleasant.
      ‘her right ear was assaulted with a tide of music’
      • ‘Open the door and the ears are practically assaulted with bird calls.’
      • ‘The wind picked up suddenly and the familiar beat of a helicopter assaulted her ears.’
      • ‘The thunder of footsteps assaulted her ears as she wrenched open the door, eyes flashing with ire.’
      • ‘Before I got very far, however, an unpleasant sight assaulted me.’
      • ‘I am calm, understated and quietly bemused at every swipe of toilet humour that assaults my ears.’
      • ‘The two men winced as the sound assaulted their ears.’
      • ‘When we entered, our ears were assaulted by the hideous muzak dripping from the sound system.’
      • ‘The strange thing was, audiences appeared to enjoy having their eyes and ears assaulted by what they saw, and they kept on coming back for more.’
      • ‘A faint buzz assaulted her ears, and the hairs on the back of her neck suddenly stood up.’
      • ‘The boy tapped his laptop in time to the discordant music assaulting his ears.’
      • ‘Walk through a shopping district or a fashionable neighbourhood in Delhi and the enervating sound of a dozen generators assaults your ears.’
      • ‘Again, they all seem as interested in assaulting our ears as they are with fighting evil.’
      • ‘Salty air assaulted her nostrils and whipped her hair into a tangle.’
      • ‘A burst of noise and activity assaulted her ears as she walked in.’
      • ‘Her ears were assaulted with the sounds of chattering guests and tinkling glasses, practically drowning out the background music.’
      • ‘The viewer's eyes and ears are assaulted for hours by sights and sounds of hitting, slapping, slugging, whipping, and torturing.’
      • ‘The chorus of the surrounding forest assaulted my battered brain.’
      • ‘The clanging sound of metal on metal assaulted his ears.’
      • ‘I miss a little of their dialogue as a rowdy French accordion medley assaults my ears.’
      • ‘Does every sorority slasher flick have to assault our ears with the negligible talents of a really lousy frathouse party band?’
    2. 1.2Carry out a military attack or raid on (an enemy position)
      ‘they left their strong position to assault the hill’
      • ‘This enemy force aggressively assaulted the Australians using rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and machine guns.’
      • ‘With only a patch of trees two hundred meters away for cover, the enemy would have a difficult time assaulting this position.’
      • ‘His domain expands but never had he assaulted a village.’
      • ‘You have to assault an enemy position but also prevent bombs from going off or files from being destroyed.’
      • ‘The safest way to assault this position was via a barely-negotiable, very steep, thorn bush-covered slope.’
      • ‘Air raids began last Thursday and troops started the ground assault the following day.’
      • ‘Subsequent reports indicated he probably died from friendly fire, although still while trying to heroically assault an enemy position.’
      • ‘It is also true that many players know better than to waste precious match time trying to assault a strong defensive position.’
      • ‘But as more and more rebel soldiers assault the extraction zone, the beleaguered marines prepare for a last stand.’
      • ‘He identified the location of the enemy, and determined the precise point in which to assault the enemy.’
      • ‘Freedom fighters attempt to assault the city to restore the world to its natural order.’
      • ‘Sixty enemy combatants in fortified positions assaulted the platoon.’
      • ‘Call me old fashioned, but I still have problems with assaulting a refugee camp with bulldozers.’
      • ‘When the enemy attacked on 3 September, they assaulted his position with grenades.’
      • ‘I'd like to tell my teammates to hold this position while I take a few forward and assault another location, but I can't control them at all, so I move out alone.’
      attack, make an assault on, launch an attack on, assail, pounce on, set upon, launch oneself at, strike at, fall on, swoop on, rush, storm, besiege
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  • 1A physical attack.

    ‘his imprisonment for an assault on the film director’
    ‘sexual assaults’
    • ‘The sexual assault on two young girls highlighted in a sad and pathetic way that the town is not getting the required resources to tackle what seems to be a constant rise in violence in the area.’
    • ‘Activities such as theft can lead the offenders to worse crimes like homicide and sexual assaults.’
    • ‘The attack was the latest assault on the majority Shiite community.’
    • ‘Others are controlled by threats to themselves and their families back home; and others are coerced through brutal physical and sexual assaults.’
    • ‘Two vicious crimes, a serious sexual assault and a brutal attack, happened at almost the same time in different parts of town.’
    • ‘‘A woman was arrested for an alleged assault on a man,’ a spokesman said.’
    • ‘Physical assault on women by intimate partners is recognized widely as a leading cause of injury to women in the United States.’
    • ‘Other recent violent attacks include an assault on a couple who asked two boys to switch off their mobile phones during a film.’
    • ‘Any obstruction or physical assault on his person, while discharging his official duties, should be viewed seriously.’
    • ‘Sexual assault and violence toward women were taboo subjects and under-reported.’
    • ‘The arrested woman was detained in connection with an allegation of controlling prostitutes for gain and also on suspicion of a violent assault on another woman.’
    • ‘Though the police spared him from physical assault on realising that they had arrested the wrong person, it took him nearly one month to secure his release.’
    • ‘The 1999 incident represented the third physical assault on the courageous activist in recent years.’
    • ‘Sexual assault is usually violence at the hands of someone the victim knows.’
    • ‘Police described it as a minor physical assault on a juvenile, apparently after some provocation.’
    • ‘In 1885 corporal punishment was included in section four of the Criminal Law Amendment Act as the penalty for a sexual assault on a girl under thirteen years of age.’
    • ‘Less than three weeks later he was reported for a physical assault on a young boy.’
    • ‘We received a complaint of a sexual assault on a young girl and had to respond with whatever resources were available to us.’
    • ‘On every fifth day, an average teacher will be assaulted or witness an assault on staff.’
    • ‘On September 21, 2001 he committed a sexual assault on an unconscious man with a weapon.’
    battery, mugging, actual bodily harm, abh
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    1. 1.1Law An act, criminal or tortious, that threatens physical harm to a person, whether or not actual harm is done.
      [mass noun] ‘he appeared in court charged with assault’
      • ‘He admitted a charge of assault causing actual bodily harm.’
      • ‘He has previous convictions for theft, robbery and assault causing actual bodily harm.’
      • ‘The father was charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm, but was acquitted.’
      • ‘In that case the appellant had been convicted of assault occasioning actual bodily harm by harassing his female victim.’
      • ‘The incident is being treated as an assault causing actual bodily harm.’
    2. 1.2A military attack or raid on an enemy position.
      ‘troops began an assault on the city’
      [as modifier] ‘an assault boat’
      • ‘So can we expect an military assault version of the two-wheeled wonder?’
      • ‘He might have escaped when the boats first started the assault on the house.’
      • ‘The player will be presented with a wide array of scenarios, from VIP rescue missions to stealth incursions to full frontal assaults against hordes of enemies.’
      • ‘Excessive speed may require that the MICLIC spend more time at the assault position rather than moving quickly forward to fire.’
      • ‘Last week hundreds of these soldiers launched an assault on their own military headquarters.’
      • ‘The city fell just 21 days after the initial assaults, and military analysts describe the campaign as historic, even brilliant.’
      • ‘The series begins with a ferocious military assault on Israel.’
      • ‘Rockets and automatic fire stream over your head as you try and hold off the assault on your position.’
      • ‘Owing to the fact that modem operations have an air-land character, combating enemy airborne assault and raid forces is acquiring special urgency.’
      • ‘Troops also faked attacks before the assault to confuse enemy fighters.’
      • ‘Least of all should we cheer-lead a military assault on an already terrified, bloody and starving country.’
      • ‘On another occasion during his 11-month tour he led three assaults on an enemy position until it finally fell.’
      • ‘The men moved off in small groups towards their assault positions.’
      • ‘As battles raged across the city centre, 15 militants mounted an assault on a police station near the airport.’
      • ‘A military assault on the country cannot be ruled out - at least in the long term.’
      • ‘Both Indian and Pakistan forces found that an assault on well-defended positions was extremely costly.’
      • ‘Frontal assaults were always attempted as a last resort, but they were costly, and their failures eroded political resolve back home.’
      • ‘There is nothing wrong with employing a brigade to conduct a raid or as the assault element of a major encroachment.’
      • ‘I began to write a response - from the safety of my nice cosy flat - when the news came through that the military assault had begun.’
      • ‘In response, the army launched a military assault on the facility in which the men were being held, demolishing parts of the building.’
      attack, strike, onslaught, offensive, storming, charge, drive, push, thrust, invasion, bombardment, sortie, sally, foray, incursion, raid, act of war, act of aggression, blitz, campaign
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    3. 1.3A strong verbal attack.
      ‘the assault on the party's tax policies’
      • ‘Reid nodded before continuing his verbal assault on the clerk.’
      • ‘He said she launched a verbal assault against him after smelling alcohol on his breath when he returned from a lunch.’
      • ‘Instead he stood on the step on the driver's side, half in and half out, slowly unfurled his considerable frame to its full height, and began his verbal assault.’
      • ‘The constables heap a series of verbal assaults on her, with outrageous comments about her moral behaviour and attitude, for travelling alone with men in the middle of the night.’
      • ‘Then he thought of his own limitations and knew he was not proof against his father's verbal assaults.’
      • ‘All others beware: this guy's verbal assault is an earful.’
      • ‘I was barely able to keep up with the barrage of verbal assaults coming my way.’
      • ‘She broke off her verbal assault because John had started to laugh.’
      • ‘This is made evident by the fact that young Protestant girls from neighbouring schools also joined in the protest as they lanced verbal assaults at their Catholic peers.’
      • ‘Beginning in the fall of 2002, university administrators began a verbal assault on students and faculty supporting divestment.’
      • ‘It used to protect listeners and viewers from the venomous verbal assaults of right wing commentators.’
      • ‘The woman who claims to have given ‘a little lip’ to the security officer probably launched an all-out verbal assault on the man.’
      • ‘After an unusually ferocious verbal assault on a member of parliament, he was pronounced insane and shipped off to an asylum in Chiswick.’
      • ‘Chris then waited four seconds before resuming his verbal assault on Patrick's frayed nerves.’
      • ‘The reporter is said to have returned to the press tent, dazed by the verbal assault, and determined to seek an apology from the player's management company.’
      • ‘He continued his verbal assault even as everyone tried to silence him.’
      • ‘You can't even imagine what such a verbal assault can do to one's psyche.’
      • ‘It follows that in cyberspace the intended victim of a verbal assault is also at least less likely to become disarmed, debilitated, and silenced.’
      • ‘It is likely that we will hear more verbal assaults around both the accuracy of poverty statistics, and the legitimacy of those who produce such research.’
      • ‘Anna hurried out, avoiding anymore air born objects and verbal assaults.’
      criticism, censure, denunciation, harangue, rant, polemic, diatribe, tirade, philippic
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  • 2A concerted attempt to do something demanding.

    ‘a winter assault on Mt. Everest’
    • ‘After breakfast, and another sitting, I bundled up and attempted the assault on Marga Point.’
    • ‘These are hectic days for him and the Irish Chamber Orchestra is now primed for a serious assault on the competitive world of concert performances.’


Middle English: from Old French asaut (noun), assauter (verb), based on Latin ad- to + saltare, frequentative of salire to leap Compare with assail.