When you attack, you charge or advance violently. It's scary to watch a big dog attack a smaller dog.

In the military, an attack is an advance of troops or the use of armed force against an enemy. When one little kid attacks another, there usually aren't any bombs or weapons involved, but the idea of force or hostility is the same. You might also attack an opponent in a game, or withstand a verbal attack from a classmate during a debate. The Italian source of attack is attacco, "an attack," from attaccare, "join battle."

Primary Meanings of attack

(military) an offensive against an enemy (using weapons)
launch an attack or assault on; begin hostilities or start warfare with
a sudden occurrence of an uncontrollable condition
begin to injure
set to work upon; turn one's energies vigorously to a task
ideas or actions intended to deal with a problem or situation
Full Definitions of attack

n (military) an offensive against an enemy (using weapons)

“the attack began at dawn”
onrush, onset, onslaught
September 11
the day in 2001 when Arab suicide bombers hijacked United States airliners and used them as bombs
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ground attack
an attack by ground troops
an impetuous rush toward someone or something
banzai attack, banzai charge
a mass attack of troops without concern for casualties; originated by Japanese who accompanied it with yells of `banzai'
diversion, diversionary attack
an attack calculated to draw enemy defense away from the point of the principal attack
incursion, penetration
an attack that penetrates into enemy territory
blitz, blitzkrieg
a swift and violent military offensive with intensive aerial bombardment
an attack that is intended to seize or inflict damage on or destroy an objective
counterattack, countermove
an attack by a defending force against an attacking enemy force in order to regain lost ground or cut off enemy advance units etc.
bombardment, bombing
an attack by dropping bombs
fire, firing
the act of firing weapons or artillery at an enemy
an attack of machine-gun fire or cannon fire from a low flying airplane
coup de main, surprise attack
an attack without warning
diversionary landing
an amphibious diversionary attack
a retaliatory charge
the action of penetrating between or among
a penetration of a barrier such as an enemy's defense
the act of invading; the act of an army that invades for conquest or plunder
a process in which individuals (or small groups) penetrate an area (especially the military penetration of enemy positions without detection)
foray, maraud, raid
a sudden short attack
first strike
the initial use of nuclear weapons to attack a country that also has nuclear weapons; considered feasible only when the attacker can destroy the other country's ability to retaliate
surgical strike
an attack (usually without prior warning) intended to deal only with a specific target
preventive attack, preventive strike
a strike that is carried out in order to deter expected aggression by hostile forces
bombing run
that part of the flight that begins with the approach to the target; includes target acquisition and ends with the release of the bombs
area bombing, carpet bombing, saturation bombing
an extensive and systematic bombing intended to devastate a large target
antiaircraft fire
firing at enemy aircraft
barrage, barrage fire, battery, bombardment, shelling
the heavy fire of artillery to saturate an area rather than hit a specific target
the simultaneous firing of all the armament on one side of a warship
burst, fusillade, salvo, volley
rapid simultaneous discharge of firearms
call fire
fire delivered on a specific target in response to a request from the supported unit
cover, covering fire
fire that makes it difficult for the enemy to fire on your own individuals or formations
concentrated fire, massed fire
fire from two or more weapons directed at a single target or area (as fire by batteries of two or more warships)
fire intended to neutralize or destroy enemy weapons
counterpreparation fire
intensive prearranged fire delivered when the immanence of enemy attack is discovered
fire from two or more points so that the lines of fire cross
destruction fire
fire delivered for the sole purpose of destroying material objects
direct fire
fire delivered on a target that is visible to the person aiming it
distributed fire
fire dispersed so as to engage effectively an area target
fratricide, friendly fire
fire that injures or kills an ally
hostile fire
fire that injures or kills an enemy
grazing fire
fire approximately parallel to the ground; the center of the cone of fire does rise above 1 meter from the ground
harassing fire
fire designed to disturb the rest of enemy troops and to curtail movement and to lower enemy morale
indirect fire
fire delivered on a target that is not itself used as the point of aim for the weapons
interdiction fire
fire directed to an area to prevent the enemy from using that area
neutralization fire
fire that is delivered in order to render the target ineffective or unusable
observed fire
fire for which the point of impact (the burst) can be seen by an observer; fire can be adjusted on the basis of the observations
preparation fire
fire delivered on a target in preparation for an assault
radar fire
gunfire aimed a target that is being tracked by radar
registration fire
fire delivered to obtain accurate data for subsequent effective engagement of targets
scheduled fire
prearranged fire delivered at a predetermined time
searching fire
fire distributed in depth by successive changes in the elevation of the gun
supporting fire
fire delivered by supporting units to protect or assist a unit in combat
suppressive fire
fire on or about a weapon system to degrade its performance below what is needed to fulfill its mission objectives
unobserved fire
fire for which the point of impact (the bursts) cannot be observed
artillery fire, cannon fire
fire delivered by artillery
(fencing) a counterattack made immediately after successfully parrying the opponents lunge
terrorist attack
a surprise attack involving the deliberate use of violence against civilians in the hope of attaining political or religious aims
ambuscade, ambush, lying in wait, trap
the act of concealing yourself and lying in wait to attack by surprise
pre-emptive strike
a surprise attack that is launched in order to prevent the enemy from doing it to you
Type of:
military operation, operation
activity by a military or naval force (as a maneuver or campaign)

n an offensive move in a sport or game

“they won the game with a 10-hit attack in the 9th inning”
counterattack, counterplay
(chess) an attack that is intended to counter the opponent's advantage in another part of the board
Type of:
play, turn
(game) the activity of doing something in an agreed succession

n the act of attacking

attacks on women increased last year”
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a threatened or attempted physical attack by someone who appears to be able to cause bodily harm if not stopped
aggravated assault
a reckless attack with intent to injure seriously (as with a deadly weapon)
assault and battery, battery
an assault in which the assailant makes physical contact
assault with intent to rob
Type of:
crime, criminal offence, criminal offense, law-breaking, offence, offense
(criminal law) an act punishable by law; usually considered an evil act

n strong criticism

“he published an unexpected attack on my work”
aspersion, calumny, defamation, denigration, slander
an abusive attack on a person's character or good name
Type of:
criticism, unfavorable judgment
disapproval expressed by pointing out faults or shortcomings

n intense adverse criticism

“the government has come under attack
blast, fire, flack, flak
Type of:
criticism, unfavorable judgment
disapproval expressed by pointing out faults or shortcomings

v launch an attack or assault on; begin hostilities or start warfare with

“Hitler attacked Poland on September 1, 1939 and started World War II”
take the initiative and go on the offensive
be on the defensive; act against an attack
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attack by submarine
pelt, pepper
attack and bombard with or as if with missiles
hit, strike
make a strategic, offensive, assault against an enemy, opponent, or a target
counterattack, counterstrike
make a counterattack
attack with gas; subject to gas fumes
storm, surprise
attack by storm; attack suddenly
attack suddenly and without warning
invade, occupy
march aggressively into another's territory by military force for the purposes of conquest and occupation
beleaguer, besiege, circumvent, hem in, surround
surround so as to force to give up
bomb, bombard
throw bombs at or attack with bombs
attack with machine guns or cannon fire from a low-flying plane
attack with cannons or artillery
attack or hit with torpedoes
bust, raid
search without warning, make a sudden surprise attack on
hit a ball so that it causes a backspin
hit sharply
strike a ball with a smooth blow
attack with teargas; subject to teargas fumes
blockade, seal off
impose a blockade on
hem in fish with stakes and nets so as to prevent them from going back into the sea with the ebb
carpet bomb
bomb a large area systematically and extensively
bomb out
make somebody homeless by destroying their houses with bombs
bomb from a diving airplane
bomb by gliding
attack with delayed release bombs
atom-bomb, nuke
bomb with atomic weapons
attack with a hydrogen bomb
bomb in certain patterns
atomise, atomize, nuke, zap
strike at with firepower or bombs
letter bomb
send an explosive to
attack with incendiary bombs
blast, shell
use explosives on
retaliate, strike back
make a counterattack and return like for like, especially evil for evil
infest, overrun
invade in great numbers
Type of:
contend, fight, struggle
be engaged in a fight; carry on a fight

v take the initiative and go on the offensive

“The Serbs attacked the village at night”
“The visiting team started to attack
launch an attack or assault on; begin hostilities or start warfare with
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place into check
place under attack with one's own pieces, of two enemy pieces
exhaust by attacking repeatedly
immobilize a piece
seize and throw down an opponent player, who usually carries the ball
Type of:
act, move
perform an action, or work out or perform (an action)

v attack someone physically or emotionally

assail, assault, set on
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attack with dogs or set dogs upon
set, sic
urge to attack someone
attack viciously and ferociously
attack suddenly
attack or hit on or from the side where the attacked person's view is obstructed
attack brutally and fiercely
assail again
make a sudden physical attack on
beset, set upon
assail or attack on all sides: "The zebra was beset by leopards"
desecrate, outrage, profane, violate
violate the sacred character of a place or language
harass or assault sexually; make indecent advances to
bear down, charge
to make a rush at or sudden attack upon, as in battle
rape (someone) successively with several attackers

v attack in speech or writing

“The editors of the left-leaning paper attacked the new House Speaker”
assail, assault, lash out, round, snipe
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abuse, blackguard, clapperclaw, shout
use foul or abusive language towards
attack as if with claws
subject to bitter verbal abuse
criticize or abuse strongly and violently
attack forcefully
barrage, bombard
address with continuously or persistently, as if with a barrage
blister, scald, whip
subject to harsh criticism
attack strongly
abuse with coarse language
rail, revile, vilify, vituperate
spread negative information about
heap obscenities upon
Type of:
criticise, criticize, knock, pick apart
find fault with; express criticism of; point out real or perceived flaws

n a sudden occurrence of an uncontrollable condition

“an attack of diarrhea”
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anxiety attack
a sudden acute episode of intense anxiety and feelings of panic
a sudden recurrence or worsening of symptoms
ictus, raptus, seizure
a sudden occurrence (or recurrence) of a disease
spot, touch
a slight attack of illness
CVA, apoplexy, cerebrovascular accident, stroke
a sudden loss of consciousness resulting when the rupture or occlusion of a blood vessel leads to oxygen lack in the brain
convulsion, fit, paroxysm
a sudden uncontrollable attack
an attack of hysteria
closure or blockage (as of a blood vessel)
heart attack
a sudden severe instance of abnormal heart function
violent uncontrollable contractions of muscles
focal seizure
transitory disturbance in motor or sensory function resulting from abnormal cortical activity
raptus hemorrhagicus
seizure caused by a sudden profuse hemorrhage
absence, absence seizure
the occurrence of an abrupt, transient loss or impairment of consciousness (which is not subsequently remembered), sometimes with light twitching, fluttering eyelids, etc.; common in petit mal epilepsy
a closure of the larynx that blocks the passage of air to the lungs
occlusion of a blood vessel by an embolus (a loose clot or air bubble or other particle)
occlusion of a blood vessel by an embolus that has broken away from a thrombus
the formation or presence of a thrombus (a clot of coagulated blood attached at the site of its formation) in a blood vessel
coronary occlusion
occlusion of a coronary artery caused either by progressive atherosclerosis or by a blood clot
ischaemic stroke, ischemic stroke
the most common kind of stroke; caused by an interruption in the flow of blood to the brain (as from a clot blocking a blood vessel)
haemorrhagic stroke, hemorrhagic stroke
stroke caused by the rupture of a blood vessel in the brain
Type of:
a cause of great suffering and distress

n the onset of a corrosive or destructive process (as by a chemical agent)

“the film was sensitive to attack by acids”
“open to attack by the elements”
Type of:
degeneration, devolution
the process of declining from a higher to a lower level of effective power or vitality or essential quality

v begin to injure

“The cancer cells are attacking his liver”
“Rust is attacking the metal”
Type of:
act physically on; have an effect upon

v set to work upon; turn one's energies vigorously to a task

“I attacked the problem as soon as I got out of bed”
Type of:
begin, commence, get, get down, set about, set out, start, start out
take the first step or steps in carrying out an action

n ideas or actions intended to deal with a problem or situation

“an attack on inflation”
“his plan of attack was misguided”
approach, plan of attack
a line of approach
Type of:
conceptualisation, conceptualization, formulation
inventing or contriving an idea or explanation and formulating it mentally

n a decisive manner of beginning a musical tone or phrase

Type of:
beginning, commencement, start
the act of starting something

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