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."

Definitions of attack
  1. noun
    (military) an offensive against an enemy (using weapons)
    “the attack began at dawn”
    synonyms: onrush, onset, onslaught
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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)
  2. noun
    an offensive move in a sport or game
    “they won the game with a 10-hit attack in the 9th inning”
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    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
  3. noun
    the act of attacking
    attacks on women increased last year”
    synonyms: attempt
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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
  4. noun
    strong criticism
    “he published an unexpected attack on my work”
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    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
  5. noun
    intense adverse criticism
    “the government has come under attack
    synonyms: blast, fire, flack, flak
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    type of:
    criticism, unfavorable judgment
    disapproval expressed by pointing out faults or shortcomings
  6. verb
    launch an attack or assault on; begin hostilities or start warfare with
    “Hitler attacked Poland on September 1, 1939 and started World War II”
    synonyms: assail
    take the initiative and go on the offensive
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    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
  7. verb
    take the initiative and go on the offensive
    “The Serbs attacked the village at night”
    “The visiting team started to attack
    synonyms: aggress
    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)
  8. verb
    attack someone physically or emotionally
    synonyms: 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
    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
  9. verb
    attack in speech or writing
    “The editors of the left-leaning paper attacked the new House Speaker”
    synonyms: 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 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
  10. noun
    a sudden occurrence of an uncontrollable condition
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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
  11. noun
    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”
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    type of:
    degeneration, devolution
    the process of declining from a higher to a lower level of effective power or vitality or essential quality
  12. verb
    begin to injure
    “The cancer cells are attacking his liver”
    “Rust is attacking the metal”
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    type of:
    act physically on; have an effect upon
  13. verb
    set to work upon; turn one's energies vigorously to a task
    “I attacked the problem as soon as I got out of bed”
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    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
  14. noun
    ideas or actions intended to deal with a problem or situation
    “an attack on inflation”
    “his plan of attack was misguided”
    synonyms: approach, plan of attack
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    a line of approach
    type of:
    conceptualisation, conceptualization, formulation
    inventing or contriving an idea or explanation and formulating it mentally
  15. noun
    a decisive manner of beginning a musical tone or phrase
    synonyms: tone-beginning
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    type of:
    beginning, commencement, start
    the act of starting something
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