verb (used with object)

  1. to set upon in a forceful, violent, hostile, or aggressive way, with or without a weapon; begin fighting with: He attacked him with his bare hands.
  2. to begin hostilities against; start an offensive against: to attack the enemy.
  3. to blame or abuse violently or bitterly.
  4. to direct unfavorable criticism against; criticize severely; argue with strongly: He attacked his opponent’s statement.
  5. to try to destroy, especially with verbal abuse: to attack the mayor’s reputation.
  6. to set about (a task) or go to work on (a thing) vigorously: to attack housecleaning; to attack the hamburger hungrily.
  7. (of disease, destructive agencies, etc.) to begin to affect.

verb (used without object)

  1. to make an attack; begin hostilities.


  1. the act of attacking; onslaught; assault.
  2. a military offensive against an enemy or enemy position.
  3. Pathology. seizure by disease or illness: an attack of indigestion.
  4. the beginning or initiating of any action; onset.
  5. an aggressive move in a performance or contest.
  6. the approach or manner of approach in beginning a musical phrase.


  1. to launch a physical assault (against) with or without weapons; begin hostilities (with)
  2. (intr) to take the initiative in a game, sport, etcafter a few minutes, the team began to attack
  3. (tr) to direct hostile words or writings at; criticize or abuse vehemently
  4. (tr) to turn one’s mind or energies vigorously to (a job, problem, etc)
  5. (tr) to begin to injure or affect adversely; corrode, corrupt, or infectrust attacked the metal
  6. (tr) to attempt to rape


  1. the act or an instance of attacking
  2. strong criticism or abusean unjustified attack on someone’s reputation
  3. an offensive move in a game, sport, etc
  4. commencement of a task, etc
  5. any sudden and usually severe manifestation of a disease or disordera heart attack; an attack of indigestion
  6. the attack ball games the players in a team whose main role is to attack the opponents’ goal or territory
  7. music decisiveness in beginning a passage, movement, or piece
  8. music the speed with which a note reaches its maximum volume
  9. an attempted rape

c.1600, from French attaquer (16c.), from Florentine Italian attaccare (battaglia) “join (battle),” thus the word is a doublet of attach, which was used 15c.-17c. also in the sense now reserved to attack. Related: Attacked; attacking.


1660s, from attack (v.). Cf. Middle English attach “a seizure or attack” (of fever), late 14c.


  1. An episode or onset of a disease, often sudden in nature.

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