• noun the offence of acting intentionally to make someone afraid that they will be attacked and hurt
  • verb the crime or tort of acting in such a way that someone is afraid he or she will be attacked and hurt


Origin & History of “assault”

To assault somebody was originally to ‘jump on’ them. The word comes from a vulgar Latin compound verb *assaltāre, formed from the prefix ad- ‘to’ and saltāre ‘jump’, a frequentative form (denoting repeated action) of the verb salīre ‘jump’ (which is the source of English salient, and by a similar compounding process produced assail (13th c.)). In Old French this became asauter, and English originally borrowed it as asaute, but in the 16th century the l was reintroduced.