verb (used with object)
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.
to begin hostilities against; start an offensive against: to attack the enemy.
to blame or abuse violently or bitterly.
to direct unfavorable criticism against; criticize severely; argue with strongly: He attacked his opponent's statement.
to try to destroy, especially with verbal abuse: to attack the mayor's reputation.
to set about (a task) or go to work on (a thing) vigorously: to attack housecleaning; to attack the hamburger hungrily.
(of disease, destructive agencies, etc.) to begin to affect.
verb (used without object)
to make an attack; begin hostilities.
the act of attacking; onslaught; assault.
a military offensive against an enemy or enemy position.
Pathology. seizure by disease or illness: an attack of indigestion.
the beginning or initiating of any action; onset.
an aggressive move in a performance or contest.
the approach or manner of approach in beginning a musical phrase.

1590–1600; earlier atta(c)que < Middle French atta(c)quer < Italian attaccare to attack, attach

attackable, adjective
attacker, noun
nonattacking, adjective
postattack, adjective
proattack, adjective
reattack, verb
unattackable, adjective
unattacked, adjective

1. storm, charge. Attack, assail, assault, molest all mean to set upon someone forcibly, with hostile or violent intent. Attack is the most general word and applies to a beginning of hostilities, especially those definitely planned: to attack from ambush. Assail implies vehement, sudden, and sometimes repeated attack: to assail with weapons or with gossip. Assault almost always implies bodily violence: to assault with intent to kill. To molest is to harass, to threaten, or to assault: He was safe, and where no one could molest him. 4. censure; impugn, oppugn, abuse. 9. onset, encounter.

1, 4. defend. 9. defense. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
attack (əˈtæk)
1.  to launch a physical assault (against) with or without weapons; begin hostilities (with)
2.  (intr) to take the initiative in a game, sport, etc: after 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 infect: rust attacked the metal
6.  (tr) to attempt to rape
7.  the act or an instance of attacking
8.  strong criticism or abuse: an unjustified attack on someone's reputation
9.  an offensive move in a game, sport, etc
10.  commencement of a task, etc
11.  any sudden and usually severe manifestation of a disease or disorder: a heart attack; an attack of indigestion
12.  ball games the attack the players in a team whose main role is to attack the opponents' goal or territory
13.  music decisiveness in beginning a passage, movement, or piece
14.  music the speed with which a note reaches its maximum volume
15.  an attempted rape
[C16: from French attaquer, from Old Italian attaccare to attack, attach, from estaccare to attach, from staccastake1; compare attach]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

c.1600, from Fr. attaquer (16c.), from Florentine attaccare (battaglia) "join (battle)," thus the word is a doublet of attach, which was also used 15c.-17c. in the sense now reserved to attack.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

attack at·tack (ə-tāk')
An episode or onset of a disease, often sudden in nature.

at·tack' v.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Example sentences for attacker
In an ideal resolution not only is the receiver unharmed but so is the attacker.
This position presented a formidable challenge to an attacker.
It was designed to absorb energy and redirect it back at its attacker.
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