Words related to assault
word-forming element expressing direction toward or in addition to, from Latin ad "to, toward" in space or time; "with regard to, in relation to," as a prefix, sometimes merely emphatic, from PIE root *ad- "to, near, at."
Simplified to a- before sc-, sp- and st-; modified to ac- before many consonants and then re-spelled af-, ag-, al-, etc., in conformity with the following consonant (as in affection, aggression). Also compare ap- (1).
In Old French, reduced to a- in all cases (an evolution already underway in Merovingian Latin), but French refashioned its written forms on the Latin model in 14c., and English did likewise 15c. in words it had picked up from Old French. In many cases pronunciation followed the shift.
Over-correction at the end of the Middle Ages in French and then English "restored" the -d- or a doubled consonant to some words that never had it (accursed, afford). The process went further in England than in France (where the vernacular sometimes resisted the pedantic), resulting in English adjourn, advance, address, advertisement (Modern French ajourner, avancer, adresser, avertissement). In modern word-formation sometimes ad- and ab- are regarded as opposites, but this was not in classical Latin.
1560s, "leaping," a heraldic term, from Latin salientem (nominative saliens), present participle of salire "to leap," from a PIE root of uncertain form (source also of Sanskrit sisarsi, sisrate "to flow, run, hurry;"Greek hallesthai "to leap," Middle Irish saltraim "I trample," Middle Welsh sathar "trampling").
The meaning "pointing outward" (preserved in military usage) is from 1680s; that of "prominent, striking" first recorded 1840, from salient point (1670s), which refers to the heart of an embryo, which seems to leap, and translates Latin punctum saliens, going back to Aristotle's writings. Hence, the "starting point" of anything.
The -l- was restored 16c., probably in imitation of Latin, but the letter was silent until 18c. Sense of "physical defect" is from early 14c.; that of "moral culpability" (milder than sin or vice, but more serious than an error) is first recorded late 14c. Geological sense is from 1796. The use in tennis (c. 1600) is closer to the etymological sense.