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

  • transitive v. To set upon with violent force.
  • transitive v. To criticize strongly or in a hostile manner.
  • transitive v. To start work on with purpose and vigor: attack a problem.
  • transitive v. To begin to affect harmfully: a disease that attacks the central nervous system.
  • intransitive v. To make an attack; launch an assault: The enemy attacked during the night.
  • n. The act or an instance of attacking; an assault.
  • n. An expression of strong criticism; hostile comment: vicious attacks in all the newspapers.
  • n. Sports An offensive action in a sport or game.
  • n. Sports The players executing such an action.
  • n. The initial movement in a task or undertaking: made an optimistic attack on the pile of paperwork.
  • n. A method or procedure: Our attack on this project will have two phases.
  • n. An episode or onset of a disease, especially an occurrence of a chronic disease: an asthma attack.
  • n. The experience or beginning of a feeling, need, or desire: an attack of hunger; an attack of melancholy.
  • n. Music The beginning or manner of beginning a piece, passage, or tone.
  • n. Decisiveness and clarity in artistic expression: a careful performance, but one lacking the rigorous attack the work demands.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An attempt to cause damage or injury to, or to somehow detract from the worth or credibility of, a person, position, idea, object, or thing, by physical, verbal, emotional, or other assault.
  • n. A time in which one attacks. The offence of a battle.
  • n. Collectively, the bowlers of a cricket side.
  • n. Any contact with the ball other than a serve or block which sends the ball across the plane of the net.
  • n. The three attackmen on the field or all the attackmen of a team.
  • n. The sudden onset of a disease.
  • n. An active episode of a chronic or recurrent disease.
  • n. The amount of time it takes for the volume of an audio signal to go from zero to maximum level (e.g. an audio waveform representing a snare drum hit would feature a very fast attack, whereas that of a wave washing to shore would feature a slow attack).
  • v. To apply violent force to someone or something.
  • v. To aggressively challenge a person, idea, etc., with words (particularly in newspaper headlines, because it typesets into less space than "criticize" or similar).
  • v. To deal with something undesirable in a direct way.
  • v. To aim balls at the batsman’s wicket.
  • v. To set a field, or bowl in a manner designed to get wickets.
  • v. To bat aggressively, so as to score runs quickly.
  • v. To move forward in an attempt to actively score point, as opposed to trying not to concede.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The act of attacking, or falling on with force or violence; an onset; an assault; -- opposed to defense.
  • n. An assault upon one's feelings or reputation with unfriendly or bitter words.
  • n. A setting to work upon some task, etc.
  • n. An access of disease; a fit of sickness.
  • n. The beginning of corrosive, decomposing, or destructive action, by a chemical agent.
  • intransitive v. To make an onset or attack.
  • transitive v. To fall upon with force; to assail, as with force and arms; to assault.
  • transitive v. To assail with unfriendly speech or writing; to begin a controversy with; to attempt to overthrow or bring into disrepute, by criticism or satire; to censure.
  • transitive v. To set to work upon, as upon a task or problem, or some object of labor or investigation.
  • transitive v. To begin to affect; to begin to act upon, injuriously or destructively; to begin to decompose or waste.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To assault; fall upon with force; assail, as with force and arms; begin hostilities against.
  • To endeavor to injure, overthrow, or bring into discredit by any act or proposal, or by unfriendly words or writing, whether by satire, calumny, criticism, or argument: as, to attack a religious belief or a legislative measure; to attack a man or his opinions in a newspaper.
  • To make an onset or attempt upon, in a general sense; begin action upon or in regard to; set about or upon: as, to attack a piece of work or a problem, or (humorously) the dinner.
  • To begin to affect; come or fall upon; seize: said of diseases and other destructive agencies: as, yesterday he was attacked by fever; caries attacked the bones; locusts attacked the crops. Specifically In chem., to cause to decompose or dissolve.
  • Synonyms Set upon, Fall upon, etc. (see assail), assault, beset, besiege, beleaguer, charge upon, engage, challenge, combat. To impugn, criticize, censure.
  • To make an attack or onset: as, the enemy attacked with great boldness.
  • n. A falling on with force or violence, or with calumny, satire, or criticism; an onset; an assault.
  • n. Battle generally; fight.
  • n. An onset of any kind; the initial movement in any active proceeding or contest, as a game of chess, cricket, etc.; in music, specifically, the act (with reference to the manner) of beginning a piece, passage, or phrase, especially by an orchestra.
  • n. The aggressive part of the art of fencing: opposed to defense.
  • n. A seizure by a disease; the onset of a disease.

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

  • n. a sudden occurrence of an uncontrollable condition
  • v. attack someone physically or emotionally
  • n. intense adverse criticism
  • n. a decisive manner of beginning a musical tone or phrase
  • v. begin to injure
  • v. set to work upon; turn one's energies vigorously to a task
  • n. an offensive move in a sport or game
  • n. ideas or actions intended to deal with a problem or situation
  • n. the onset of a corrosive or destructive process (as by a chemical agent)
  • v. attack in speech or writing
  • n. strong criticism
  • v. take the initiative and go on the offensive
  • v. launch an attack or assault on; begin hostilities or start warfare with
  • n. (military) an offensive against an enemy (using weapons)
  • n. the act of attacking


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

French attaquer, from Old French, from Old Italian *estaccare, of Germanic origin.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From French attaque, derived from the verb attaquer, from Italian attaccare ("to join, attach") used in attaccare battaglia, "to join battle". Cognate with Italian attacca and German Attacke.



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  • Used to describe an aggressive opening in chess.

    February 21, 2007