Etymology
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assail (v.)

"attack violently," c. 1200, from Old French assalir "attack, assault, assail" (12c., Modern French assaillir), from Vulgar Latin *adsalire "to leap at," from Latin ad "to, toward" (see ad-) + salire "to leap" (see salient (adj.)). The figurative use, of mental states, emotions, etc., is from mid-14c.; the meaning "attack with arguments, abuse, criticism, etc." is from c. 1400. Related: Assailed; assailing; assailable.

updated on September 27, 2022

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Definitions of assail from WordNet

assail (v.)
attack someone physically or emotionally;
Nightmares assailed him regularly
Synonyms: assault / set on / attack
assail (v.)
launch an attack or assault on; begin hostilities or start warfare with;
Serbian forces assailed Bosnian towns all week
Synonyms: attack
assail (v.)
attack in speech or writing;
Synonyms: attack / round / lash out / snipe / assault
Etymologies are not definitions. From wordnet.princeton.edu, not affiliated with etymonline.