Meaning of ATTACK in English


I. əˈtak, chiefly substand -kt verb

( attacked -kt, chiefly substand -ktə̇d ; attacked ; attacking ; attacks )

Etymology: Middle French attaquer, from Old Italian attaccare to attach, attack, alteration (influenced by a to, from Latin ad ) of (assumed) Old Italian estaccare to attach, from (assumed) Old Italian stacca stake, of Germanic origin; akin to Old English staca stake — more at at , stake

transitive verb


a. : to set upon or work against forcefully

attack a man without warning

if we study any modern river we note how determinedly it attacks its banks — W.E.Swinton

: assail especially with force and weapons

attack the enemy positions

: assault

b. : to set upon forcibly with sexual intent : subject to indecent assault : rape , ravish

2. : to threaten (a piece in chess) with immediate capture

the rook is attacking the queen

3. : to assail with unfriendly or bitter words : begin a controversy with : attempt to overthrow or bring into disrepute (as by criticism or satire)

4. : to begin to affect : seize upon

the kidneys are attacked by an embryonic tumor — H.R.Litchfield & L.H.Dembo

attacked by a fever


a. : to begin to injure, damage, or eat

worms attacked the cabbage plants

b. : to act upon destructively : decompose

the acid attacks the metal cup

6. : to set to work upon (as a problem or an investigation) especially vigorously : tackle

a plan which attacks the four basic problems — Collier's Year Book

intransitive verb

: to make an attack

waiting for the enemy to attack

they attacked furiously in an effort to score the tying goal


attack , assail , assault , bombard , storm mean to make a more or less violent onslaught upon, literally or figuratively. attack means to move against with more or less violent intent, implying aggression in any sense and the initiative in the onset

the infantry and air force attacked the town in coordinated waves

he and other union leaders were physically attacked — Current Biography

erosion attacked the range and began its relentless work of reducing the land to sea level once more — American Guide Series: New York

assail suggests repeated blows in an attack, as with or as if with shells or sword thrusts

the expedition … assailed by a fleet of fifty-four war canoes — Tom Marvel

the rain assailed him and thorns tore him — H.G.Wells

assailed by doubts

assault stresses attack at close quarters, the use of brute strength, suddenness, and violence

pilots hammered a rail marshaling yard, bombing twenty boxcars, while other aircraft assaulted supply buildings — New York Times

adult ears are not to be assaulted by the sudden screams of childish exuberance — Richard Joseph

bombard means to assail with bombs, suggesting by extension an unremitting importuning or pestering with a series of similar things

naval artillery bombarded the shore fortifications

magazine editors are bombarded with manuscripts — L.D.Rubin

he and his office associates were bombarded with requests for box seats — New Yorker

storm stresses a violence, rush, and effectiveness of assault that usually and summarily clears all opposition out of the way

the waves of light tanks stormed the infantry positions — S.L.A.Marshall

a group of soldiers in the International Brigade stormed the jail — Current Biography

II. noun

( -s )

1. : the act of falling on with force or violence : onset , assault , offense

retreat before the infantry attack

— opposed to defense


a. : an offensive or antagonistic movement or action of any kind

television was used in many parts of the country as an instrument of attack , rather than of argument — Gilbert Seldes

the team launched an attack that carried deep into enemy territory

b. : rape , indecent assault


a. : an assault with unfriendly or bitter words

her vocal attacks are less savage than they once were — Newsweek

b. : the beginning of corrosive, decomposing, or destructive action by a chemical agent


a. : the setting to work upon some undertaking : beginning or method of procedure

the solution in each problem calls for a different attack

b. : an often extraordinary Salvationist effort to make converts

5. : the act or manner of beginning a musical tone or phrase: as

a. : unanimity of entrance of several performers

a ragged attack

b. : suddenness or gradualness of beginning a tone

c. : the initial precision of pitch and quality especially in singing

6. : the initiation or onset of the articulation of a speech sound


a. : an offensive or scoring action

won the game with a 16-hit attack

b. : offensive players or the positions taken up by them

c. : a series of aggressive moves in chess usually for positional advantage ; also : a threat to capture an opponent's man

d. : cricket bowling especially as contrasted with batting ; also : the bowlers of a cricket team

e. : an effort to hit in fencing — used also as a word of command

f. : any of three lacrosse positions or players between out home and center — called respectively in their order from the opponents' goal first attack, second attack, third attack

8. : the setting in or the duration of a depressive or destructive process: as

a. : an access of disease : fit of sickness

an attack of bronchitis

b. : a period of being strongly affected by some particular desire or mood

an attack of melancholy

III. adjective

Etymology: attack (II)

: designed, planned, or employed for initiating, supporting, or carrying out a military attack

an attack formation

an attack bomber

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.