Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To attack with or as if with violent blows; assault.
  • transitive v. To attack verbally, as with ridicule or censure. See Synonyms at attack.
  • transitive v. To trouble; beset: was assailed by doubts.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To attack violently.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To attack with violence, or in a vehement and hostile manner; to assault; to molest
  • transitive v. To encounter or meet purposely with the view of mastering, as an obstacle, difficulty, or the like.
  • transitive v. 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..

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To fall upon with violence; assault; attack.
  • 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.
  • To fall upon; bring something to bear upon or against; come in contact with: as, the ship was assailed by a severe storm.
  • 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.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. attack someone physically or emotionally
  • v. attack in speech or writing
  • v. launch an attack or assault on; begin hostilities or start warfare with

Etymologies

Middle English assailen, from Old French asalir, asaill-, from Vulgar Latin *assalīre, variant of Latin assilīre, to jump on : ad-, onto; see ad- + salīre, to jump; see sel- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Old French verb asaillir, from Latin assiliō, from ad ("towards") + saliō ("to jump"). See also assault. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • If Scotland be to rest under the happy reign of Robert Bruce, then envy cannot again assail Sir William Wallace, and my father has not shed his blood in vain.

    The Scottish Chiefs

  • _ Gazing in a dazed way at the awful sights of this circle, Dante learns it is twenty-one miles in circumference, ere he passes on to the next bridge, where lamentations such as assail one's ears in a hospital constantly arise.

    The Book of the Epic

  • It was hard to think, hard even to pray, gloomy ideas, and doubts, and fears, such as assail even true Christians, crowded on his mind.

    Janet McLaren The Faithful Nurse

  • ABC News 'Jake Tapper reported last night that the White House planned to "assail" Inhofe's remarks, though it was unclear whether Obama himself would comment on them:

    Center for American Progress Action Fund

  • Mr. Paul's new strategy has been to assail opponents like Mr. Gingrich, hoping to remind voters of his rivals' flaws.

    Why Ron Paul Can't Win

  • Nowadays, partisans on one side of the aisle mercilessly assail their opponents as nefarious ideologues bent on the destruction of the nation, while claiming the sacred mantle of the Founding Fathers as exclusively their own.

    Morgan Pehme: Strip Politics: A Cure for Incivility

  • We can analyze the minutia ad infinitum, point our fingers of blame at Tea Party politics and assail the rhetoric of the right wing more broadly.

    Morris W. O'Kelly: Time for President Obama to Channel Samuel L. Jackson

  • I am the chair of the Domestic Violence Judicial panel in my county (not Ruralshire) and encourage my colleagues to pass significant custodial sentences at the first offence stage for DV convictions, particularly if the assail; ant pleads not guilty but is found guilty after a trial involving the victim as a witness.

    Sonnex and Farmer – only a matter of time. « POLICE INSPECTOR BLOG

  • The Republican nominee will assail Obama's fiscal record and promise a determined assault on the debt.

    Think this economy is bad? Wait for 2012.

  • A week ago, even after the CEO of Tides released a powerful public letter to Fox advertisers describing what it felt like to be targeted for assassination, Beck continued to assail Tides as representing "paganism" and "evil stuff."

    DavidBrock: A Peace-Loving Sarah Palin Would "Refudiate" Glenn Beck

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Comments

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  • My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught 3 because of what my enemy is saying,
    because of the threats of the wicked; for they bring down suffering on me and assail me in their anger. Psalm 55:2~3.

    February 4, 2011