Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

English definition of “attack”

attack

verb uk   /əˈtæk/ us  

attack verb (HURT)

B1 [I or T] to try to hurt or defeat using violence: He was attacked and seriously injured by a gang of youths. Army forces have been attacking the town since dawn. Most wild animals won't attack unless they are provoked.
Compare
Attacking and invadingPhysical and sexual assault and abductionSexual activity in general

attack verb (CRITICIZE)

C1 [T] to criticize someone strongly: She wrote an article attacking the judges and their conduct of the trial. The report attacks the idea of exams for seven and eight-year-olds.Disapproving and criticizingDamaging reputation

attack verb (DAMAGE)

C2 [T] If something, such as a disease or a chemical, attacks something, it damages it: AIDS attacks the body's immune system. My rose bushes are being attacked by greenfly.Damaging and spoilingDestroying and demolishing

attack verb (SPORT)

[I or T] If players in a team attack, they move forward to try to score points, goals, etc.General terms used in ball sports

attack verb (DEAL WITH)

[T] to deal with something quickly and in an effective way: We have to attack these problems now and find some solutions. The children rushed in and eagerly attacked the food (= quickly started to eat it).Dealing with things or peopleActing and actsCoping and not copingTolerating and enduring

attack

noun uk   /əˈtæk/ us  

attack noun (VIOLENT ACT)

B1 [C or U] a violent act intended to hurt or damage someone or something: a racist attack Enemy forces have made an attack on the city. These bomb blasts suggest that the terrorists are (going) on the attack (= trying to defeat or hurt other people) again. The town was once again under attack (= being attacked).Attacking and invading

attack noun (CRITICISM)

C2 [C or U] a strong criticism of someone or something: a scathing attack on the president The government has come under attack from all sides for cutting education spending.Disapproving and criticizingDamaging reputation

attack noun (ILLNESS)

[C] a sudden and short period of illness: an attack of asthma/flu/malariafigurative an attack of the gigglesDisease and illness - general words

attack noun (SPORT)

B1 [C or U] the part of a team in some sports that tries to score points: The team has a strong attack, but its defence is weak. The team is strong in (US on) attack but useless in defence.Competitors and participants in sports and games [U] determination in the way you play a sport, trying hard to score points: The team needs to put some more attack into its game.Competing in sportCompeting and contending (non-sporting)
(Definition of attack from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
What is the pronunciation of attack?
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

Definitions of “attack” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day

aptitude

a natural ability or skill

Word of the Day

Blog

Read our blog about how the English language behaves.

Learn More

New Words

Find words and meanings that have just started to be used in English, and let us know what you think of them.

Learn More