1. a sudden, violent attack; onslaught: an assault on tradition.
  2. Law. an unlawful physical attack upon another; an attempt or offer to do violence to another, with or without battery, as by holding a stone or club in a threatening manner.
  3. Military. the stage of close combat in an attack.
  4. rape1.

verb (used with object)

  1. to make an assault upon; attack; assail.


  1. a violent attack, either physical or verbal
  2. law an intentional or reckless act that causes another person to expect to be subjected to immediate and unlawful violenceCompare battery (def. 4), assault and battery
    1. the culmination of a military attack, in which fighting takes place at close quarters
    2. (as modifier)assault troops
  3. rape or attempted rape

verb (tr)

  1. to make an assault upon
  2. to rape or attempt to rape

late 14c., earlier asaut (c.1200), from Old French asaut, assaut “an attack, an assault, attacking forces” (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *adsaltus “attack, assault,” from ad “to” (see ad-) + Latin saltus “a leap,” from salire “to leap, spring” (see assail). In law by 1580s; historically, assault includes menacing words or actions; battery is an actual blow.


early 15c., from Middle French asauter, assauter, from Vulgar Latin *assaltare (see assault (n.)). Related: Assaulted; assaulting.

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