• WordNet 3.6
    • v assail attack in speech or writing "The editors of the left-leaning paper attacked the new House Speaker"
    • v assail 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"
    • v assail attack someone physically or emotionally "The mugger assaulted the woman","Nightmares assailed him regularly"
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • Assail 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 .""They assailed him with keen invective; they assailed him with still keener irony."
    • Assail 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 .""No storm can now assail The charm he wears within."
    • Assail To encounter or meet purposely with the view of mastering, as an obstacle, difficulty, or the like. "The thorny wilds the woodmen fierce assail ."
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • assail To fall upon with violence; assault; attack.
    • assail To attack with reasoning, arguments, censure, abuse, criticism, appeals, entreaties, or anything that bears upon the mind or feelings: as, to assail an obnoxious person with jeers.
    • assail To fall upon; bring something to bear upon or against; come in contact with: as, the ship was assailed by a severe storm.
    • assail Synonyms Attack, Set upon, Fall upon, Assail, Assault. Attack, literally to fasten to, is the most general of these words. Set upon and fall upon have the vigor of short and familiar words, and they express a sudden, energetic attack. Assail and assault, literally to leap or spring at, are to attack vehemently and perhaps suddenly. Assault is the stronger of the two, and is especially used of attacks with personal violence, as with fists, stones, etc. All five of these words may be extended to warfare, and to contests and struggles of any kind.
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • v.t Assail as-sāl′ to assault: to attack
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  • John Dryden
    “Roused by the lash of his own stubborn tail our lion now will foreign foes assail.”
  • J. August Strindberg
    “I always disliked dogs, those protectors of cowards who lack the courage to fight an assailant themselves.”
  • John Kenneth Galbraith
    “There is something wonderful in seeing a wrong-headed majority assailed by truth.”
  • Nathaniel P. Willis
    Nathaniel P. Willis
    “The innocence that feels no risk and is taught no caution, is more vulnerable than guilt, and oftener assailed.”
  • Samuel Johnson
    “There mark what ills the scholar's life assail, toil, envy, want, and patron.”


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
OE. assailen, asailen, OF. asaillir, assailler, F. assaillir,; a,L. ad,) + saillir, to burst out, project, fr. L. salire, to leap, spring; cf. L. assilire, to leap or spring upon. See Sally
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
O. Fr. asaillir—L. assilīread, upon, and salīre, to leap.


In literature:

At first they stopped, in the vain hope of catching their assailants.
"The Golden Grasshopper" by W.H.G. Kingston
The captain, with only a jack-knife in his hand, defended himself bravely, killing four of his savage assailants.
"Happy Jack" by W.H.G. Kingston
In vain the mighty beast tried to shake off his savage assailant.
"Mark Seaworth" by William H.G. Kingston
Their assailants seized the horses, and carried them in triumph into the city.
"For the Temple" by G. A. Henty
Already had his dwelling been once assailed, and the people were now ripe for any violence.
"Aurelian" by William Ware
Into the room leaped Frank Merriwell, and he placed himself between Diamond and his would-be assailant.
"Frank Merriwell's Races" by Burt L. Standish
The remaining ladders were instantly overthrown, and a shower of arrows poured upon their assailants.
"For Name and Fame" by G. A. Henty
Distinct above the hollow breathing of the sea it assailed me, poignant and insistent.
"The Trail of '98" by Robert W. Service
The assailants had already sacrificed more than a hundred men.
"The Naval History of the United States" by Willis J. Abbot
In London armed men assailed passengers by night, and even by day.
"The History of Tasmania , Volume II (of 2)" by John West

In poetry:

Birch and cherry balm exhale,
Balm exhale,
Loud our horns the cliffs assail,
Cliffs assail.
"Hunting Song" by Bjornstjerne Bjornson
Then why should we in vain repine
At man's uncertain lot,
That cares will equally assail
The palace and the cot?
"Reflection" by Matilda Betham
I shall behold him, one day, nigh.
Assailed with glory keen,
My eyes will open wide, and I
Shall see as I am seen.
"The Disciple" by George MacDonald
Thou animatest ancient tales,
To prove our world of linear seed:
Thy very virtue now assails,
A tempter to mislead.
"The Last Contention" by George Meredith
And frequently when Hunger's pangs
Assailed that callow pup,
He masticated boots and gloves
Or chewed a door-mat up.
"The Ballad Of The Taylor Pup" by Eugene Field
But, lo! from out the distant vale
An engine's whistle keen
Comes sharply up, as to assail
The silence that had been.
"In Kirkconnel Old Churchyard" by Alexander Anderson

In news:

Rock Hill police say a 20-year-old student who was raped near Winthrop University was told by her assailant as he ran away that he had given her AIDS.
Check out the story of a Romanian taxi driver and his Angelina Jolie look alike assailant.
Quinn, Emanuel assail court's concealed carry decision .
A Fountain Valley man has been charged in connection with the incident in which two people were taken by assailants from a Balboa Peninsula home Oct 2 and dumped in the Mojave Desert.
A teenage sexual assault victim took to Twitter to out her assailants and now faces jail time.
MTA police officer John Barnett was stabbed at 9:30 am yesterday morning in Queens, before shooting and killing his assailant, reports Fox NY.
Audit assails US education department 's monitoring of federal spending on charter schools.
BERLIN—Police say a group of assailants pelted the Iranian Embassy in Berlin with stones and paint and pulled down an Iranian flag—prompting Germany's foreign minister to express regret to his counterpart in Tehran.
Azerbaijan's leader assails BP over falling output.
Rep Sean McCann assails Republicans for 'jamming it through'.
Waging a real war on women, the movement has pitted itself against both science, which finds sexual differences throughout the animal kingdom, and women, who routinely express a preference for the gender roles that feminists assail.
In Coal Miner's Latest Governance Dispute, the Financier Assails Firm's Chairman Over Bakrie Bid.
Bill to Restrict Web Content Is Assailed in Russia.
22-year-old UPJ?student attacked armed assailants inside his apartment.
Gabby Giffords faces Tucson assailant as he is sentenced to life.