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. "The Spanish general prepared to renew the assault." (Prescott) "Unshaken bears the assault Of their most dreaded foe, the strong southwest." (Wordsworth)

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. An apparently violent attempt, or willful offer with force or violence, to do hurt to another; an attempt or offer to beat another, accompanied by a degree of violence, but without touching his person, as by lifting the fist, or a cane, in a threatening manner, or by striking at him, and missing him. If the blow aimed takes effect, it is a battery. "Practically, however, the word assault is used to include the battery." (Mozley & W)

Synonyms: Attack, invasion, incursion, descent, onset, onslaught, charge, storm.

Origin: OE. Asaut, assaut, OF. Assaut, asalt, F. Assaut, LL. Assaltus; L. Ad + saltus a leaping, a springing, salire to leap. See Assail.

1. To make an assault upon, as by a sudden rush of armed men; to attack with unlawful or insulting physical violence or menaces. "Insnared, assaulted, overcome, led bound." (Milton)

2. To attack with moral means, or with a view of producing moral effects; to attack by words, arguments, or unfriendly measures; to assail; as, to assault a reputation or an administration. "Before the gates, the cries of babes newborn, . . . Assault his ears." (Dryden)

In the latter sense, assail is more common.

Synonyms: To attack, assail, invade, encounter, storm, charge. See Attack.

Origin: From Assault,: cf. OF. Assaulter, LL. Assaltare.

(01 Mar 1998)

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