Definitions

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A falling on or upon; an attack, onset, or assault.
  • n. A fall of rain or snow.
  • n. The fall of the evening.
  • v. To fall on or upon.
  • v. To assault.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A falling on; an attack; an onset.
  • n. A fall of rain or snow.
  • n. The fall of the evening.

Etymologies

From on- +‎ fall. Cognate with Dutch aanval ("an attack, assault"), German Anfall ("an attack, seizure, fit"), Swedish anfall ("an attack, offensive, assault"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • I was often obliged to run my head against my old acquaintances, the Swedish feathers, whilk your honour must conceive to be double-pointed stakes, shod with iron at each end, and planted before the squad of pikes to prevent an onfall of the cavalry.

    A Legend of Montrose

  • Yet, while they were returning to the castle, he failed not to warn Sir Duncan Campbell against the great injury he might sustain by any sudden onfall of an enemy, whereby his horses, cattle, and granaries, might be cut off and consumed, to his great prejudice; wherefore he again strongly conjured him to construct a sconce upon the round hill called Drumsnab, and offered his own friendly services in lining out the same.

    A Legend of Montrose

  • And now this is the last word: here is a horn of oliphant which thou shalt wear about thy neck, Birdalone; and if thou be sore bestead, or thy heart faileth thee, blow in it, yet not before the onfall; and then, whether thou blow much or little, thou shalt be well holpen.

    The Water of the Wondrous Isles

  • "And so you were with Wandenberg when his troopers made that daring onfall at Pont-a-Vendin, and drove back the horse picquets of Villars," said the Major, to lead the conversation from a point which evidently seemed unpleasant to the stranger.

    The International Monthly Magazine, Volume 5, No. 1, January, 1852

  • For though he knew there would be many a brave onfall and stout bickering, yet, as Sir Lancelot had become the most valiant knight in all the island of Britain, the king had greatly desired that the knight should show how he excelled all the doughty warriors that would come from all parts.

    King Arthur's Knights The Tales Re-told for Boys & Girls

  • No one knew of this secret power except King Arthur, and often had it availed Sir Gawaine, so that in dire perils of onfall, sudden ambush, or long battle, it had given him the victory, when all about him had been slain or wounded or taken captive.

    King Arthur's Knights The Tales Re-told for Boys & Girls

  • Tales of how he had been way-laid and got free; of how he had been generous and got free; of how he had been angry and went marching with the speed of an eagle and the direct onfall of a storm; while in front and at the sides, angled from the prow of his terrific advance, were fleeing multitudes who did not dare to wait and scarce had time to run.

    Irish Fairy Tales

  • The onfall and sally of the earler evangelistic campaigns are now aided by the investment and siege of educational and medical work.

    The World's Great Sermons, Volume 10 Drummond to Jowett, and General Index

  • I slew him at the first onfall; I gave his steed to you;

    National Epics

  • On January 6th the Boers delivered their great assault upon Ladysmith -- an onfall so gallantly made and gallantly met that it deserves to rank among the classic fights of British military history.

    The Great Boer War

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