Meaning of ATTACK in English



1. to attack someone

2. to attack someone suddenly and unexpectedly

3. to attack a place or country

4. to attack someone because they attacked you

5. an attack against a person

6. a military attack

7. a person or place that attacks another person or country

8. a person or place that is attacked

9. easy to attack





to criticize someone : ↑ CRITICIZE

to hit someone : ↑ HIT

to attack someone and force them to have sex : ↑ SEX

see also








1. to attack someone

▷ attack /əˈtæk/ [intransitive/transitive verb]

to use violence against someone and try to hurt them :

▪ A woman was attacked by three youths while she was out jogging in Central Park.

▪ Police dogs are trained to attack in certain circumstances.

▪ He was badly injured when one of his own bulls attacked him.

attack somebody with something

▪ Her husband attacked her with a knife.

▷ mug /mʌg/ [transitive verb usually in passive]

to attack someone and take money from them in a public place such as a street :

▪ Since moving to New Jersey, he has been mugged at gunpoint twice.

▪ If anyone ever tried to mug me, I would throw my bag and run.

get mugged

▪ I was scared I would get mugged or raped.

▷ assault /əˈsɔːlt/ [transitive verb]

to attack and hurt someone - use this especially to talk about the crime of attacking someone :

▪ He assaulted a female flight attendant who refused to serve him more drinks.

▪ Some supporters ran onto the field and assaulted the referee.

sexually assault somebody

▪ She was kidnapped and sexually assaulted at gunpoint.

▷ stab /stæb/ [transitive verb usually in passive]

to attack someone by pushing a knife into them :

▪ The victim had been stabbed six times.

stab somebody in something

▪ Meyers was stabbed once in the abdomen and once in the neck.

stab at

▪ Her assailant lunged, stabbing at her again and again.

▷ go for /ˈgəʊ fɔːʳ/ [transitive phrasal verb]

to attack someone with a sudden violent movement :

go for somebody

▪ Charlie went for Murray as soon as he entered the room, pushing him up against the wall.

go for somebody with something

▪ One day Grandma got so mad she went for Grandpa with the kitchen knife.

go for somebody’s throat/ears/eyes etc

▪ The dog went straight for my throat, without warning.

▪ If you are attacked, go for your attacker’s eyes as they are the most vulnerable part of the face.

▷ lay into /ˈleɪ ɪntuː/ [transitive phrasal verb]

to attack someone very violently, hitting them repeatedly and without control :

lay into somebody

▪ From the moment the bell rang, Tyson laid into his opponent.

lay into somebody with something

▪ The video shows a policeman repeatedly laying into a protestor with his baton.

2. to attack someone suddenly and unexpectedly

▷ ambush /ˈæmbʊʃ/ [transitive verb]

if a group of people ambush someone, they hide and wait for them and then suddenly attack them :

▪ The rebel group successfully ambushed a regiment of American reinforcements.

▪ He was afraid he would be stopped by government troops or, even worse, ambushed by the Vietcong.

▪ Parker ambushed a school bus on a field trip and held 17 children and their teacher hostage.

▷ be set upon by /biː ˈset əpɒn baɪ/ [verb phrase]

to suddenly be attacked by people or animals, especially when you are going somewhere - used especially in written or literary contexts :

▪ He had been set upon by bat-wielding racists, so he understood how I felt.

▪ The drivers were set upon by a mob, including several women, which showered them with stones.

▷ turn on also turn upon /ˈtɜːʳn ɒn, ˈtɜːʳn əpɒn/ [transitive phrasal verb]

to suddenly attack someone you are with, especially when it is very unexpected :

▪ Red with rage, Frank turned on Anna, grasping her arm in a vice-like grip.

▪ Then the warriors turned upon each other, for a fight to the death.

▷ strike /straɪk/ [intransitive verb]

to make a quick sudden attack especially on someone who is not expecting to be attacked :

▪ They felt sure the killer would strike again, but could not say when.

▪ The police struck at dawn in a carefully timed operation to catch the bombers.

▷ pounce /paʊns/ [intransitive verb]

to suddenly jump on another person from a place where you have been hiding, in order to catch or attack them :

be ready/waiting/set to pounce

▪ He crouched on the ground, like an animal ready to pounce.

pounce on

▪ Before he could rescue it, the cat pounced on the bird and carried it to the bushes.

▷ jump /dʒʌmp/ [transitive verb] informal

to attack someone suddenly and usually from behind, in order to injure them or to rob them :

▪ Two guys tried to jump me in the park last night.

▪ He climbed over the wall and jumped the guard, easily overpowering him.

3. to attack a place or country

▷ attack /əˈtæk/ [intransitive/transitive verb]

to attack a place or country using weapons, aircraft, soldiers etc :

▪ On 25 April, British and Australian troops attacked the enemy at Gallipoli.

▪ The village had been attacked by enemy warplanes.

▪ The special unit attacked at dawn, inflicting heavy losses.

▪ General Powell consulted with the President before giving the order to attack.

attacking [adjective only before noun]

attacking army/forces

▪ Almost two-thirds of the attacking force had been wiped out.

▷ invade /ɪnˈveɪd/ [intransitive/transitive verb]

if a country’s army invades another country, it enters it and tries to control it :

▪ Enemy forces were almost certainly preparing to invade.

▪ Sicily was invaded by the Normans, and later by the Saracens.

▪ In his latest film, super-intelligent aliens invade Earth and try to take over.

invading [adjective only before noun]

invading army/forces etc

▪ The villagers headed for the mountains to escape the invading army.

▷ raid /reɪd/ [transitive verb]

if a group of soldiers raids a place or town belonging to an enemy, they attack it suddenly and without any warning and cause a lot of damage in a short time :

▪ The rebels raided the tiny mountain town early on Tuesday.

▪ Again, the tribe had raided a neighbouring village, inflicting many casualties.

▷ launch an attack/mount an attack /ˌlɔːntʃ ən əˈtæk, ˌmaʊnt-/ also launch an invasion/mount an invasion /ˌlɔ;ŋtʃ ən ɪnˈveɪʒ ə n, ˌmaʊnt-/ [verb phrase]

to start to attack an enemy’s army, country, or property, in a planned way :

▪ A fresh attack was mounted on the last remaining rebels.

▪ The Huns, normally a peaceful race, launched an invasion into Europe via the Caspian Steppes.

▷ storm /stɔːʳm/ [transitive verb]

to suddenly attack a city or building that is well-defended by getting inside it and taking control :

▪ Heavily armed and masked gunmen stormed an ammunitions store in Co. Mayo.

▪ an attempt by government forces to storm the hijacked airplane

▷ besiege /bɪˈsiːdʒ/ [transitive verb]

to surround a city or building with soldiers in order to stop the people inside from getting out or from receiving supplies such as food and water :

▪ The capital has been besieged by the opposition militia for two months now.

▪ Federal agents besieged the compound in Waco in 1993.

besieged [adjective only before noun]

besieged city/town/castle etc

▪ Hundreds of Serbs managed to flee the besieged city.

4. to attack someone because they attacked you

▷ retaliate /rɪˈtælieɪt/ [intransitive verb]

to attack someone because they have attacked you first :

▪ The government wants peace, but will not hesitate to retaliate if attacked.

▪ She decided not to retaliate physically, because it would put her in even greater danger.

retaliate by doing something

▪ When police tried to push back the crowd, a few youths retaliated by throwing stones at them.

▪ Later that day, whites retaliated by killing a young black delivery driver.

retaliate against

▪ He has promised to take tough measures to retaliate against extremists.

retaliate for

because of what someone has done to you

▪ In an interview, Tyson claimed he was retaliating for Holyfield’s attack on him.

retaliate with

▪ I fully accept that it was wrong of the guards to retaliate with blows and kicks.

retaliation /rɪˌtæliˈeɪʃ ə n/ [uncountable noun]

▪ America stopped short of military retaliation, but issued a strong statement condemning the invasion.

▪ the threat of retaliation

in retaliation (for something)

▪ They plotted the attack in retaliation for the attack by federal agents on the camp.

▪ Three inmates were killed in retaliation.

▷ counter-attack /ˈkaʊntərəˌtæk/ [countable noun]

an attack that an army makes after it has been attacked by an enemy :

▪ The enemy had started a vicious counter-attack, forcing the French into the woods.

launch/mount a counter-attack

▪ Allied forces were regrouping in order to launch a counter-attack.

counter-attack [intransitive verb]

▪ Once the harvest was in, the peasants were free to counter-attack.

▷ hit back/strike back /ˌhɪt ˈbæk, ˌstraɪk ˈbæk/ [intransitive phrasal verb]

to attack a person or army that has attacked you first, especially in order to try and show that you are very strong and cannot be defeated :

▪ The tanks and artillery will hit back hard if the ceasefire is broken.

hit back/strike back with

▪ Less than 24 hours after this cross-border raid, army jets hit back with a devastating air strike.

hit back/strike back at

▪ He suspected that the US would take the opportunity to strike back at the Axis forces.

▷ tit-for-tat /ˌtɪt fəʳ ˈtæt/ [adjective only before noun]

tit-for-tat killings/murders/response etc

a killing, reaction etc done because someone has done something similar to someone in your group :

▪ Any hope of peace is destroyed by these endless tit-for-tat attacks.

▪ The murder is thought to have been a tit-for-tat response by the Mafia to an earlier gangland killing.

5. an attack against a person

▷ attack /əˈtæk/ [countable noun]

when someone uses violence against another person and tries to hurt them :

▪ The attack took place as she was walking home.

racial/sexual/physical attack

▪ Fong did not suffer a physical attack, but he was humiliated by the three men.

▪ victims of racial attacks

▪ There was no indication of a sexual attack.

attack on

▪ They finally caught the gang responsible for the armed attacks on foreigners in Dakar.

▪ New statistics show a further increase in attacks on women.

vicious/nasty/unprovoked etc attack

▪ Police say it was a particularly nasty attack.

▪ a number of brutal and unprovoked attacks on gays

▷ mugging /ˈmʌgɪŋ/ [countable noun]

an attack on someone in a public place such as a street, in order to steal something from them :

▪ Preston was a victim of a mugging three months ago.

a spate/series of muggings

several muggings in a short period of time

▪ Police are investigating a spate of muggings that took place on the campus last week.

▷ assault /əˈsɔːlt/ [countable/uncountable noun]

an attack on someone - use this especially when talking about the crime of attacking someone :

▪ The charges against the prisoner include criminal damage and assault.

indecent/sexual/violent assault

▪ He was convicted of adultery and indecent assault.

▪ the problem of domestic violence and sexual assault within the home

assault on

▪ Assaults on public transportation workers have doubled in the last 10 years.

6. a military attack

▷ attack /əˈtæk/ [countable noun]

when a military force attacks a place or country, using weapons, aircraft, soldiers etc :

▪ The attack began at dawn.

▪ The caller warned that the attacks will continue until the demands are met.

attack on

▪ missile attacks on civilian targets

naval/air/artillery/terrorist etc attack

▪ The city is exposed and vulnerable to air attack.

▪ Eleven people were injured in a rocket attack on Sunday night.

launch/mount an attack

▪ International terrorists have mounted an attack aimed at disrupting the huge tourist industry here.

go on the attack

start to attack someone or something

▪ To my horror, the soldiers went on the attack, killing men, women and children indiscriminately.

▷ invasion /ɪnˈveɪʒ ə n/ [countable noun]

when an army from one country enters another country and tries to control it :

▪ The fear of an invasion by rebels is always present.

foreign/military etc invasion

▪ Some analysts fear that increasing desperation could lead to a military invasion of the country’s southern neighbors.

▪ the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia

▷ raid /reɪd/ [countable noun]

a short quick attack by a group of soldiers, planes, or ships on a place that belongs to an enemy :

military/bombing/aerial etc raid

▪ He led a commando raid in the desert.

▪ a surprise raid

▪ NATO bombing raids

air raid

one carried out by planes dropping bombs

▪ Some of the most beautiful architecture in the city was destroyed in the air raids.

▪ air-raid sirens

raid on/against

▪ Sixty people are thought to have been killed in the raid on the village just west of the capital.

▪ John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry

▪ As a teenager, he was involved in a raid against a village of Omaha Indians.

▷ ambush /ˈæmbʊʃ/ [countable noun]

a sudden attack by a group of soldiers who have been hiding and waiting for someone :

be killed/shot etc in an ambush

▪ Six or seven of the passengers were killed in an ambush on the narrowest part of the road.

lie/wait in ambush

wait in order to ambush

▪ They moved slowly, knowing that in the next clump of trees enemy soldiers might be lying in ambush.

▷ assault /əˈsɔːlt/ [countable noun]

a military attack to take control of a place controlled by the enemy :

aerial/military/naval etc assault

▪ a massive armed assault on the city

assault on/against

▪ Only a successful assault on the rebels’ headquarters could have ended the civil war.

▷ strike /straɪk/ [countable noun]

a sudden attack, especially one from the air, using bombs :

▪ The rebels launched a retaliatory strike.

air/nuclear/missile etc strike

▪ The bomb strike took place on a camp near Krek.

▪ nuclear strike capability

▷ offensive /əˈfensɪv/ [countable noun]

a planned attack involving large forces and often taking place over several weeks or months, especially as part of a plan to win a war :

military/nuclear/air etc offensive

▪ The great military offensive had failed, and it seemed victory was escaping them.

▪ The rebel offensive resumed on Thursday, leaving 12 dead and many injured.

launch/mount an offensive

▪ Government troops launched an offensive against UNITA positions in the north.

offensive on/against

▪ The President announced a counter-offensive on the rebels.

▷ aggression /əˈgreʃ ə n/ [uncountable noun]

the act of attacking a country, especially when that country has not attacked first - used especially in political contexts :

▪ The invasion was condemned as ‘blatant aggression’ by the British Prime Minister.

▪ The President promised to use all his powers to prevent further aggression.

armed/foreign/military etc agression

▪ another example of communist aggression

aggression against

▪ As our older generation knows from experience, unchecked aggression against a small nation is a prelude to international disaster.

an act of aggression

▪ Any eastward expansion would be regarded by the government as an act of aggression.

7. a person or place that attacks another person or country

▷ attacker also assailant formal /əˈtækəʳ, əˈseɪlənt/ [countable noun]

someone who attacks another person :

▪ Unknown assailants stabbed a British tourist and wounded his wife.

▪ The attacker fled empty-handed.

your/his/her etc attacker

the person who attacked you/him/her etc

▪ Her attacker is described as white, in his mid-fifties and with medium-length dark hair.

▪ Mrs Lundy’s alleged assailants were aquitted of all charges.

▷ aggressor /əˈgresəʳ/ [countable noun]

a country that attacks another country, especially when that country has not already attacked first :

▪ The situation is complex and it is not easy to determine exactly who is the aggressor in this case.

military/foreign etc aggressor

▪ a call for united action against the foreign aggressor

▪ The USSR scored valuable propaganda points against its Western aggressors.

8. a person or place that is attacked

▷ victim /ˈvɪktɪm, ˈvɪktəm/ [countable noun]

someone who has been attacked :

▪ In most sexual offences, the attacker is known to the victim.

▪ The victim was shaken, but physically unharmed.

murder/rape/torture etc victim

▪ The program was grossly insensitive to Holocaust victims.

▪ One of the bombing victims was dead on arrival in hospital.

victim of

▪ She had been the victim of a particularly vicious attack.

▪ victims of domestic abuse

▷ target /ˈtɑːʳgɪt, ˈtɑːʳgət/ [countable noun]

a person or place that someone, especially a military group, has chosen to attack :

▪ The bomb missed its target by several kilometres.

military/civilian target

▪ The GIA continued its attacks on civilian targets.

target zone/area

▪ When the plane gets to the target area, it drops the missile and returns to base.

target of

▪ The Institution has been the target of terrorist attack several times.

▪ The commonly used roads are the targets of heavy fire.

prime target

very obvious and probable target

▪ Holding a US passport makes these tourists a prime target for terrorists.

▷ be under attack /biː ˌʌndər əˈtæk/ [verb phrase]

if an army or place is under attack, it is being attacked :

▪ The rebels are under attack and may surrender at any time.

be under attack from

▪ At first, he thought the Pacific Fleet was under attack from German forces.

come under attack

begin to be attacked

▪ We were united by a sense of national pride when our country came under attack.

9. easy to attack

▷ vulnerable /ˈvʌln ə rəb ə l/ [adjective]

easy to attack, damage, or enter by force :

▪ His victims are vulnerable young women.

▪ Ground floor windows are particularly vulnerable and secure locks should be fitted.

vulnerable to

▪ The tanks’ positions made them vulnerable to enemy gunfire.

▷ sitting duck /ˌsɪtɪŋ ˈdʌk/ [countable noun]

someone who is very easy to attack because they cannot move or they can only move very slowly :

▪ The troops in their bunkers were sitting ducks for enemy missiles.

▪ We were like sitting ducks, our only defense a small shed surrounded by a few concrete blocks.

▷ be an easy target /biː ən ˌiːzi ˈtɑːʳgə̇t/ [verb phrase]

to be very easy to see or find and therefore easy to attack :

▪ I knew that in our current position, we were an all-too-easy target for thieves and bandits.

make an easy target

▪ Women living alone make easy targets for robbers.

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