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From Old French noun assaut, from the verb asaillir, from Latin assiliō, from ad ‎(towards) + saliō ‎(to jump). See also assail.



assault ‎(plural assaults)

  1. A violent onset or attack with physical means, as blows, weapons, etc.; an onslaught; the rush or charge of an attacking force; onset; as, to make assault upon a man, a house, or a town.
    • Prescott
      The Spanish general prepared to renew the assault.
    • Shakespeare
      Unshaken bears the assault / Of their most dreaded foe, the strong southwest.
  2. A violent onset or attack with moral weapons, as words, arguments, appeals, and the like; as, to make an assault on the prerogatives of a prince, or on the constitution of a government.
  3. (criminal, law) An attempt to commit battery: a violent attempt, or willful effort with force or violence, to do hurt to another, but without necessarily touching his person, as by lifting a fist in a threatening manner, or by striking at him and missing him.
  4. (singular only, law) The crime whose action is such an attempt.
  5. (tort law) An act that causes someone to apprehend imminent bodily harm.
  6. (singular only, law) The tort whose action is such an act.
  7. (fencing) A non-competitive combat between two fencers.


Derived terms[edit]

Coordinate terms[edit]



assault ‎(third-person singular simple present assaults, present participle assaulting, simple past and past participle assaulted)

  1. To attack, threaten or harass.


Middle French[edit]


assault m (plural assauls)

  1. (chiefly military) assault; attack