Definition of attack in English:

attack

verb

[WITH OBJECT]
  • 1 Take aggressive action against (a place or enemy forces) with weapons or armed force, typically in a battle or war.

    ‘in December, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor’
    [no object] ‘Italian forces attacked in October’
    • ‘Armies would thus come under fire long before they could even see their enemy, let alone attack his positions.’
    • ‘Coalition forces weren't attacked with weapons of mass destruction.’
    • ‘Then he encouraged his men to attack enemy positions, despite the lethal danger from incoming artillery rounds.’
    • ‘While the band was waiting for authorization to enter the States as working musicians, terrorists attacked the World Trade Centre.’
    • ‘We restricted attacks north of certain areas; we didn't attack the enemy's capital.’
    • ‘In preparation for urban warfare, the soldiers practised responding to a vehicle ambush, clearing buildings and attacking enemy positions.’
    • ‘The militants attacked the camp around dawn, firing indiscriminately at guards posted at the main gate.’
    • ‘The Chinese Eastern Railway was attacked not merely by rebels but by regular troops.’
    • ‘The dead include civilians, soldiers and the tribal leader Rahim Bezoni, all killed for refusing to back the fight against the British forces attacking the city.’
    • ‘In some cases such units were as likely to attack friendly towns and forces as enemy ones.’
    • ‘The Blackfoot became respected as an aggressive military force, attacking and destroying several trading posts in their territory.’
    • ‘The government deployed additional military forces to attack terrorist strongholds.’
    • ‘On September 11, 1973 the Chilean armed forces attacked La Moneda, the presidential palace in the centre of Santiago.’
    • ‘He is also linked, though tenuously, to the men who attacked the World Trade Centre in 1993.’
    • ‘I was in Louisville, Kentucky, on a book tour when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.’
    • ‘Border clashes worsened when Democratic Kampuchea's military attacked villages in Vietnam.’
    • ‘Just two years ago, a trade delegation from the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region was also attacked by separatists here, resulting in one death and two injuries.’
    • ‘France controlled most of that territory until 1759 when British forces attacked Quebec City.’
    • ‘The militants attack Indian forces almost daily in the mountainous province.’
    • ‘British military forces attacked Mahdi Army positions in Amarah, killing 20 persons and wounding 78.’
    • ‘Unidentified armed groups continue to attack villages and connecting roads.’
    • ‘Initially, US sources denied American forces had attacked the village, which consisted mainly of mud huts.’
    begin an assault, charge, pounce, strike, begin hostilities, ambush
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1(of a person or animal) act against (someone or something) aggressively in an attempt to injure or kill.
      ‘a doctor was attacked by two youths’
      • ‘The Plaintiff's daughter was attacked and killed by him.’
      • ‘The wife of a York man who nearly died after being savagely attacked by a gang of youths has publicly thanked the people who saved her husband's life.’
      • ‘But immediately after the elections violence broke out and several houses were set on fire and people were attacked and killed.’
      • ‘We realised that it must have been the same person who killed Tammy who also attacked you.’
      • ‘Khadse made headlines when he was brought in to trap panthers after 13 people were attacked and killed by the animals.’
      • ‘Another incident occurred in September, when a married couple were killed after they were attacked by an elephant in Pandan Wangi, Indragiri regency, Riau.’
      • ‘I have a friend who was nearly killed when he was attacked in his apartment with knives from his kitchen, so I understand what the researchers are trying to do here.’
      • ‘He was brutally killed by thieves who attacked him at his home in Belmont.’
      • ‘They also claimed the family's Rottweiler dog had attacked another dog, killed one woman's cat and gone for another woman in the street leaving her shaken up.’
      • ‘He was attacked, killed and later thrown into the river.’
      • ‘However, on a number of occasions in 1999 and 2000 their dogs attacked his animals and killed 22 of them.’
      • ‘Dolphins, however, are known to kill sharks by attacking their soft bellies with hard blows from their beaks.’
      • ‘An unnamed woman was attacked and killed by a crocodile while crossing the Enseleni River north of Empangeni early yesterday morning.’
      • ‘Police said the man was shot and killed when he attempted to attack police.’
      • ‘There I spoke to a woman whose mother was attacked and injured by a Komodo dragon - which raised the issue of humans as prey.’
      • ‘One outdoor magazine recently documented the case of a man who killed a bear that attacked him.’
      • ‘A brave Whitefield man has told how he fought off two thugs who attacked him as they attempted to steal his high-performance Mini.’
      • ‘He was on holiday in Venezuela with his wife when he was attacked and killed.’
      • ‘She also assured us that the jaguar is not a man-eater - in fact there are no recorded cases of a person being attacked or killed by a jaguar in an unprovoked situation.’
      • ‘A plumber named Joe is attacked and killed in the basement, and a long dead corpse is discovered.’
      • ‘He shivered inside when he recalled the coolness with which she had said that she had killed the woman who attacked her.’
    2. 1.2(of a disease, chemical substance, or insect) act harmfully on.
      ‘HIV is thought to attack certain cells in the brain’
      • ‘Leaves attacked by insects or disease, on the other hand, die under duress, spotted and curled.’
      • ‘Fungal diseases can attack shoots and leaves but also developing bunches and ripe fruit.’
      • ‘The lack of nutrients in the white-sand soil means that plants cannot afford to be attacked by insects, because lost leaf tissue is difficult to replace.’
      • ‘Sudden oak death is the snappy title which has been given to a devastating fungal disease attacking oaks and other native shrubs throughout North America.’
      • ‘Richard died from the rare degenerative disease which attacks the central nervous system.’
      • ‘She said the life-threatening condition developed when her own antibodies attacked the baby's blood cells.’
      • ‘The disease attacks the macula - an area of the retina at the back of the eye that houses light-sensing cells.’
      • ‘Autoimmune diseases result when the immune system attacks the body's own organs, tissues and cells.’
      • ‘Relieving stress made sense to me because in my work I had seen that plants under stress were the ones most likely to be attacked by diseases and pests.’
      • ‘Parkinson's disease attacks and destroys these nerve cells, meaning the brain is starved of dopamine.’
      • ‘Now suffering from lupus, a cruel disease which attacks the body's immune system, she has a quick wit and air of irreverence that still make her a delight to interview.’
      • ‘The disease usually attacks the lungs but can affect almost any part of the body and is usually curable with an intensive six-month course of antibiotics.’
      • ‘BSE is almost impossible to distinguish from scrapie, a disease attacking the brain of sheep.’
      • ‘Ironically, when a tree is attacked by insects, it releases certain compounds which some insects actually use to their advantage.’
      • ‘The disease attacks the liver and can be fatal in a small number of cases.’
      • ‘The trees have been attacked by a bacterial disease known as fire blight.’
      • ‘It attacks only grapevines, and kills vines by attacking their roots.’
      • ‘In 1999 he was diagnosed as being HIV positive, and now, to fight the deadly disease attacking his immune system, he takes drugs to keep himself alive.’
      • ‘MS is an incurable disease that attacks the central nervous system causing severe disability.’
      • ‘The unknown disease attacked over 200 people gathered for an American Legion convention in Philadelphia.’
      • ‘Larvae of the grape root borer attack the larger roots and crown of grapevines.’
      • ‘The disease had attacked her liver and she slipped into a coma.’
    3. 1.3Criticize or oppose fiercely and publicly.
      ‘he attacked the government's defense policy’
      • ‘In 1892 the lifelong friendship between Lie and Klein broke down and the following year Lie publicly attacked Klein.’
      • ‘Fully aware of the situation, he is fiercely attacking the administration for its pro-business stances and special-interest politics.’
      • ‘Viciously attacked by critics and rejected by the public, the Impressionist painters were outcasts in the art world.’
      • ‘She is now making a television programme which attacks those who oppose fox hunting.’
      • ‘This is not the first time a controversial film has been attacked before its critics have seen a single frame.’
      • ‘And I've relied on that audience response ever since, to buoy me through periods when I've been attacked by critics.’
      • ‘Similarly, Woods is attacked for fiercely defending his privacy.’
      • ‘Vettriano now lives in London after selling his Edinburgh home last year claiming he was sick of being attacked by Scottish art critics.’
      • ‘Prominent candidates attacked each other fiercely.’
      • ‘Owenson's status as a professional woman writer was constantly abused by contemporary male reviewers, who savagely attacked everything she wrote.’
      • ‘Jiao had fiercely attacked the Ministry of Propaganda as an out-of-date dinosaur.’
      • ‘In 1818 he attacked Coleridge savagely in a magazine edited by his son-in-law.’
      • ‘His response to the disaster of the war is to attack those who opposed the war.’
      • ‘Failure to recruit enough doctors and nurses has been criticised in a report attacking west Wiltshire health bosses.’
      • ‘But plans to house the turbines at Pool Hill, near Kitchenroyd, have been fiercely attacked by residents.’
      • ‘He was fiercely attacked, and even some figures who privately sympathized with his views were too cowed to defend him publicly.’
      • ‘The play was fiercely attacked by critics and made headline news in the tabloids.’
      • ‘But critics have attacked the BBC for lavishing public money on non-programming activities at a time of massive cost-cutting in the organisation.’
      • ‘Leuthner was fiercely attacked for his theses at the time by social democratic leader Karl Kautsky.’
      • ‘He recently attacked a German political critic by likening him to a Nazi commandant.’
    4. 1.4Begin to deal with (a problem or task) in a determined and vigorous way.
      ‘a plan of action to attack unemployment’
      • ‘We need to start preparing for the worst and need to attack this issue with the verve and urgency that people had in the last campaign.’
      • ‘Is there something that you would suggest be put in place that would begin to attack that problem?’
      • ‘If we truly want to effect change on an aging business practice and culture, we need to attack the problem from both within and without.’
      • ‘He said that drugs have always been a problem and the only way you attack a problem is head on.’
      • ‘Overnight some of the mail team began attacking the problem.’
    5. 1.5[no object]Make an aggressive or forceful attempt to score a goal or point, or gain or exploit an advantage in a game against an opposing team or player.
      ‘the home team showed some good attacking play’
      • ‘They have enough attacking flair to score goals, with the likes of Beckham, Giggs, Cole and Sherringham.’
      • ‘The problem is that goals and attacking play are sometimes unrelated concepts.’
      • ‘We didn't want to attack too much because it would be crazy to lose the ball and let them score a goal.’
      • ‘Inter have done more attacking in the opening eight minutes than I've seen them do in all their matches this season.’
      • ‘Bima said that the team would attack in the early minutes and would try to score goals from counter attacks.’
      • ‘The red team was attacking very well, but the blue goalkeeper held them out I think.’
      • ‘Poland have started well, attacking up both flanks.’
      • ‘Both goals were scored by attacking midfielder Declan Reilly.’
      • ‘Instead of trying to tell the players how to attack, he gave them more freedom.’
      • ‘Again both players were attacking and probing for possible weak points.’
      • ‘It's being played at a terrific pace by two teams intent on attacking.’
      • ‘However, sloppy tackling gave the visitors their first chance to attack and they duly scored a well-worked try.’
      • ‘But Ireland attacked and got the goal their efforts deserved in 33 minutes with a lovely move.’
      • ‘As the match drew to a close both teams attacked vigorously in search of the winner, but poor finishing let them down.’
      • ‘The Saints upped the temperature as they began to attack relentlessly.’
      • ‘England scored in the first half, then tried to defend the advantage in the second half, but Brazil attacked well and scored twice.’
      • ‘Their three goals scored showed the attacking capability that they have.’
      • ‘The crowds get excited when their teams attack - even when they are winning.’
      • ‘Duff attacks down the left wing, but his ball is headed away by Sulimani.’
      • ‘Silsden then became over-confident with too many players wanting to attack.’
    6. 1.6Chess
      Move into or be in a position to capture (an opponent's piece)
      • ‘But this resulted in the immediate loss of a piece as Adams took a pawn with his bishop attacking the black queen.’
      • ‘The piece is instantly trappable - usually that means it can be attacked by a piece of lesser value and has no safe way to retreat.’
      • ‘A Queen move which attacks a guarded pawn is not usually a threat since taking the pawn next move usually results in loss of material.’
      • ‘He has a very active queen, good knight against bad bishop and White's exposed pawns to attack.’
      • ‘No matter how many times he attacks the pawn, White can defend.’

noun

  • 1An aggressive and violent action against a person or place.

    ‘he was killed in an attack on a checkpoint’
    ‘three classrooms were gutted in the arson attack’
    • ‘Five teenagers have been charged following an attack on a police officer which left him needing 10 stitches to his head.’
    • ‘For those close to the areas under attack, the damage was obvious and the response immediate.’
    • ‘Journalists said that it was an attack on the freedom of press.’
    • ‘I did not see how we could withstand a determined attack after nightfall.’
    • ‘The offender was chased and apprehended by a member of the public who witnessed the attack.’
    • ‘The battalion's withdrawal was met by a determined Japanese air attack on the convoy.’
    • ‘Police believe he may also be responsible for an attack on a 48-year-old woman last Friday.’
    • ‘Police are treating an attack on a community church and its vicar as racially-motivated, a spokesman said today.’
    • ‘Since then, we have witnessed only one more attempted terrorist attack on a plane.’
    • ‘No claims of responsibility have been made for the subway attack, the worst terrorist attack in Moscow in five years.’
    • ‘Police have confirmed they are treating the attack as attempted murder.’
    • ‘In Tikrit, guerrillas detonated two car bombs in an attack on a police checkpoint.’
    • ‘In February police arrested nine Moroccans suspected of planning an attack on the US embassy in Rome.’
    • ‘An attack on private education is itself a thinly veiled assault on those who choose to use it.’
    • ‘This cowardly decision was a blow to those already on strike and an attack on the unity of the city workers.’
    • ‘Police are investigating an attack on a woman as she left a toilet at a train station.’
    • ‘In an attack on a police station, one police officer and an attacker were killed.’
    • ‘There was a real mood in the meeting that an attack on the time limit was the first step in an attack on abortion rights in general.’
    • ‘Last week, terrorists launched an attack on government facilities in Saudi Arabia.’
    • ‘They were shot as they launched an attack on the police station using guns and a bomb in the bucket of a mechanical digger.’
    • ‘Today there will be an exercise involving a mock chemical attack on the City of London.’
    • ‘What I want to say here, no, what I have to say here, is that this country, our very way of life and everything we ever stood for, is under attack.’
    assault, onslaught, offensive, strike, blitz, raid, sortie, sally, storming, charge, rush, drive, push, thrust, invasion, incursion, inroad
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Destructive action by a disease, chemical, or insect.
      ‘the tissue is open to attack by fungus’
      • ‘Helps plants withstand attacks by disease and insects by enhancing naturally occurring microbial agents.’
      • ‘A good friend has pointed out to me that, in her country, to combat insect attacks on citrus fruits, they have used sprays containing organophosphorus.’
      • ‘Potatoes, particularly varieties grown for seed, are treated with insecticide to control attack from aphids.’
      • ‘The ants move the aphids to fresh parts of the plant, and they protect them from attack by other insects.’
      • ‘Its affinity for oxygen makes it resistant to corrosion and attack by most chemicals.’
      • ‘Communication of aphid attack between plants has recently been shown to involve other volatiles.’
      • ‘Biological plant protection measures were taken to prevent insect attack on plants.’
      • ‘Growing in dense thickets, it becomes vulnerable over time to attacks from insects and disease.’
      • ‘Second, look at the underlying cause related to the pest or disease attack.’
    2. 1.2A sudden short bout of an illness or stress.
      ‘an attack of nausea’
      ‘an asthma attack’
      • ‘The type of treatment that is given depends on how often the asthma attacks occur and how bad the symptoms are.’
      • ‘Many medications are currently available to relieve the symptoms of acute migraine attacks.’
      • ‘When a person has asthma, an attack can be started by a number of different things.’
      • ‘Patients with acute cholecystitis may have a history of attacks of biliary colic or they may have been asymptomatic until the presenting episode.’
      • ‘They are commonly used for relieving sudden attacks of asthma and preventing exercise-induced asthma.’
      • ‘Poorly cleaned heating systems also contribute to asthma and allergy attacks in the fall and winter, say researchers.’
      • ‘Short but recurrent attacks of vertigo are often caused by benign positional vertigo.’
      • ‘Some people with asthma never have a severe attack, only a little wheezing or the occasional bout of coughing.’
      • ‘The weather is so depressing that I am convinced it is the reason behind my sudden attack of vomiting.’
      • ‘A sudden attack of viral encephalitis left him in a deep coma with a dire prognosis.’
      • ‘There was a past history of migraine attacks and bouts of coughing.’
      • ‘All these triggers can irritate the airways in your lungs, making an asthma attack more likely.’
      • ‘The best way to prevent asthma attacks is to identify and avoid indoor and outdoor allergens and irritants.’
      • ‘There may be attacks of sudden breathlessness during the night.’
      • ‘Most doctors will start chronic treatment of epilepsy if two or more attacks occur in a short interval.’
      • ‘Collins suffered from severe attacks of a rheumatic illness which caused him great pain, only relieved by the use of opium.’
      • ‘An attack of rheumatic fever may last for six weeks or longer.’
      • ‘The illness results in recurrent attacks of chills and fever and can be deadly.’
      • ‘Sudden attacks lasting for a few days with symptom-free intervals.’
      • ‘Several treatments are available to help make the attacks shorter and less severe.’
      • ‘For the thousands of people who have trigeminal neuralgia, attacks of such pain are frequent and can often seem unbearable.’
    3. 1.3An instance of fierce public criticism or opposition.
      ‘he launched a stinging attack on the White House’
      • ‘Arnold Schwarzeneggar launched a blistering attack on the fiscal credentials of the opposition party.’
      • ‘He has yet again launched a personal attack on a public servant without justification.’
      • ‘It is the most pathetic attack on public servants I have ever heard in this House.’
      • ‘His sporadic cinematic output has been combined with fierce public attacks on the general media situation.’
      • ‘London's ex-police chief has launched a vitriolic attack on the minister.’
      • ‘No more will you have to endure the ill-formed attacks of the purchasing public.’
      • ‘Responding to criticism that his attacks on Elton and Madonna in his new biography are unfair, he has decided to set the record straight.’
      • ‘The admission drew a scathing attack from the Opposition, with Mr Gilmore calling for his resignation.’
      • ‘The Opposition Leader intensified his attack on the Prime Minister, insisting he had lied to the public.’
      • ‘How low will it sink in its attacks on progressives and public spending?’
      • ‘And having made her a public figure, he must have expected her to be subjected to public scrutiny and political attacks.’
      • ‘Last week, making his second appearance at the corruption trial, he launched a withering attack on his critics.’
      • ‘In the fight against cronyism, Malaysian economist Jomo has endured public attacks, lawsuits and death threats.’
      • ‘The company has suffered public attacks in the US and Western Europe and announced a down-turn in profits earlier in the year.’
      • ‘In a fierce attack on both Labour and the Tories, he urged all parties to reach a consensus on how the NHS should be managed.’
      • ‘A government spending watchdog today launched a scathing attack on attempts to cut congestion.’
      • ‘The following day, the government continued its political attack on the opposition.’
      • ‘Eventually, he had to respond to the mounting attacks and criticisms by Labor.’
      • ‘The York Civic Trust's annual report launched a fierce attack on the loss of the city's Victorian heritage to the developers.’
      • ‘Members of a new action group launched an attack on the local police authority at a public meeting on Tuesday.’
      • ‘When so out of touch with public and media attacks, that is when a First Minister should turn to his special advisers.’
      • ‘Later he decided to rise above the criticism and attacks.’
    4. 1.4A determined attempt to tackle a problem or task.
      ‘an attack on inflation’
      • ‘In this context, it is much more than a scientific venture: it is a direct attack on poverty and the disparities between rich and poor.’
      • ‘I am determined to use my national responsibilities to launch a concerted attack on truancy and ill discipline in schools.’
      • ‘They generated a high-profile attack on muggers, which involved every interested government department.’
      • ‘His proposed attack on drugs has two prongs: swift arrest and punishment for foreign druglords who continue to supply drugs to this country, and measures to make the drug trade so unprofitable that those in it will give it up.’
    5. 1.5Music
      The manner of beginning to play or sing a passage.
      • ‘The shaping of phrases is largely dependent on articulation, particularly on keyboard instruments, where finely controlled attack and decay on individual notes is prescribed’
      • ‘She discusses the three uses of the diaphragm: on the attack of the first note, on the high / low note and on the last note.’
    6. 1.6Forceful and decisive style in performing music or another art.
      ‘the sheer attack of Hendrix's playing’
      • ‘I think the energy of it, not having an intermission on stage, and just the harsh sonic attack of the music, was great.’
      • ‘There's a sharpness and attack to her performances, which ensures a sense of drive.’
    7. 1.7An aggressive attempt to score a goal, win points, or gain or exploit an advantage in a game.
      • ‘When he wasn't prompting attacks, he was scoring mighty points.’
      • ‘I think our style of play means we always risk conceding goals but we try to mitigate that with good attacks.’
      • ‘In midfield Callum Bott tackled as though his life depended upon it and broke up countless home attacks.’
      • ‘There was little chance of another goal but the sporadic attacks did at least please the fans.’
      • ‘Portugal are now gaining an upper hand in the match, launching attacks from all over the pitch.’
      • ‘Dundee grew ragged under the weight of repeated attacks on their goal.’
      • ‘In Shahid's days there were more attacks and attempts on goals because of fast and true synthetic turf.’
      • ‘There was no sense of urgency from either team in the first half, with the game characterised by sporadic attacks at goals.’
      • ‘Kildare used the elements and the extra man to good advantage in the second half as they launched wave after wave of attacks on the Southerners' goal.’
      • ‘Solid defending from Kate Bugg and Amy Bowler kept attacks on the goal to a minimum with Emma Rowley having to make only two saves in the match.’
      • ‘A succession of relentless goal attacks highlighted the latter stages of the second half.’
      • ‘This West Indian batting line-up has struggled to score against most attacks in the recent past.’
      • ‘But they had to endure some anxious moments when the Gaels launched a number of attacks which ended in goals for the home team.’
      • ‘Kelly's brilliance inspired his team-mates and the remainder of the game saw Waterford launch many attacks at the visitors' goal.’
      • ‘Smith dominated play from the start but after numerous attacks on goal failed to score.’
      • ‘Then just like earlier in the half the Graigue side swept forward in a wave of attacks which yielded a goal and three points.’
      • ‘Tadcaster repelled the Sheffield side's earlier attacks but three goals just before half-time eased the home side's frustrations.’
    8. 1.8Chess
      A threat to capture an opponent's piece.
      • ‘It is Black who now has all the chances on the kingside and he can now proceed to build up a kingside attack.’
      • ‘Herbert Lockwood, who sacrificed a piece for two pawns and an attack that his opponent could not defend, gained the final point.’
      • ‘After a few careless moves in the opening Black develops a murderous attack.’
      • ‘In the Yugoslav it is generally correct for Black to attack with pieces and not pawns, because pawn attacks tend to be too slow.’
      • ‘Rubinstein combines the march of his King to a weak pawn with an attack against White's King.’
      • ‘White has two ways of giving up a piece for the attack in the main line, and they're both looking as deadly as ever.’

Phrases

  • under attack

    • Subject to aggressive, violent, or harmful action.

      ‘his paintings have come under attack for their satanic content’
      • ‘Today, it is not merely justice itself, but the idea of justice that is under attack.’
      • ‘Like many people, the President finds it difficult to admit a mistake, particularly when under attack on all sides.’
      • ‘But then a domestic helper rushed in to warn him his house was under attack from gunmen.’
      • ‘On arrival they came under attack from youths hurling bottle and stones at their appliance.’
      • ‘She says the village came under attack from the planes and from members of the Janjaweed militia.’
      • ‘Police chasing two car thieves came under attack from a crowd of 60 youths.’
      • ‘Fire fighters came under attack in Hilltown when they responded to a call to a bonfire in the village.’
      • ‘For reasons that have yet to be explained, it seems that man's best friend is under attack again.’
      • ‘It is a telling sign of the times that Hersh is once again under attack for his reporting.’
      • ‘I thought the house was under attack and leaped out of bed to defend my family.’
      • ‘It follows an incident last week when a bus came under attack from a mob of stone-throwing crazed youths.’

Origin

Early 17th century: from French attaque (noun), attaquer (verb), from Italian attacco an attack attaccare join battle based on an element of Germanic origin (see attach).

Pronunciation:

attack

/əˈtak/