assail Meaning, Definition & Usage

  1. verb attack someone physically or emotionally
    assault; attack; set on.
    • The mugger assaulted the woman
    • Nightmares assailed him regularly
  2. verb launch an attack or assault on; begin hostilities or start warfare with
    • Hitler attacked Poland on September 1, 1939 and started World War II
    • Serbian forces assailed Bosnian towns all week
  3. verb attack in speech or writing
    lash out; attack; assault; snipe; round.
    • The editors of the left-leaning paper attacked the new House Speaker


As*sail" transitive verb
OE. assailen, asailen, OF. asaillir, assailler, F. assaillir; (L. ad) + saillir to burst out, project, fr. L. salire to leap, spring; cf. L. assilire to leap or spring upon. See Sally.
imperfect & past participle Assailed present participle & verbal noun Assailing
  1. To attack with violence, or in a vehement and hostile manner; to assault; to molest; as, to assail a man with blows; to assail a city with artillery.
    No rude noise mine ears assailing. Cowper.
    No storm can now assail The charm he wears within. Keble.
  2. To encounter or meet purposely with the view of mastering, as an obstacle, difficulty, or the like.
    The thorny wilds the woodmen fierce assail. Pope.
  3. To attack morally, or with a view to produce changes in the feelings, character, conduct, existing usages, institutions; to attack by words, hostile influence, etc.; as, to assail one with appeals, arguments, abuse, ridicule, and the like.
    The papal authority . . . assailed. Hallam.
    They assailed him with keen invective; they assailed him with still keener irony. Macaulay.
    Syn. -- To attack; assault; invade; encounter; fall upon. See Attack.

Webster 1913