American English

Definition of attack noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  1. 1[countable, uncountable] attack (on somebody) an act of using violence to try to hurt or kill someone a series of racist attacks A child is recovering in the hospital after a serious attack by a stray dog.
  2. in war
  3. 2[countable, uncountable] attack (on somebody/something) an act of trying to kill or injure the enemy in war, using weapons such as guns and bombs to launch/make/mount an attack The patrol came under attack from all sides. Topic CollocationsWar and Peacestarting a war declare/wage war (on somebody/something) go to war (against/with somebody) cause/spark/provoke/foment/quell unrest incite/lead/crush/suppress a revolt/rebellion launch/mount/carry out a surprise/terrorist attack prevent/halt/represent an escalation of the conflict be torn apart by/be on the brink of civil war enter/invade/occupy somebody's territory lead/launch/resist/repel an invasionmilitary operations adopt/develop/implement/pursue a military strategy carry out/execute/perform military operations/maneuvers send/deploy/station/pull back/withdraw troops go on/fly/carry out a reconnaissance/rescue mission train/equip/deploy army/military/combat units lead/launch/conduct an (air/airborne/amphibious) attack/a surprise attack (on somebody); an assault/a raid (on somebody) employ/use guerrilla tactics conduct/wage biological/guerrilla warfare fight/crush/defeat the rebels/the insurgency suffer/inflict a crushing defeat achieve/win a decisive victory halt/stop the American/German advance order/force a retreatfighting join/serve in the Army/Navy/Air Force/Marines/Coast Guard/reserves be/go/remain/serve on active duty do/complete/return from a tour of duty be sent to the front (line) attack/strike/engage/defeat/kill/destroy the enemy witness/see/report/be engaged in heavy fighting call for/be met with armed resistance come under heavy/machine-gun/mortar fire fire a machine gun/mortar shells/rockets (at somebody/something) shoot a rifle/a pistol/bullets/missiles launch/fire a(n) cruise/ballistic/anti-tank missile use biological/chemical/nuclear weapons inflict/suffer/sustain heavy losses/casualties be hit/killed by enemy/friendly/artillery fire become/be held as/be taken as a prisoner of warcivilians in war harm/kill/target/protect innocent/unarmed civilians cause/avoid/limit/minimize civilian casualties/collateral damage impose/enforce/lift a curfew engage in/be a victim of ethnic cleansing be sent to a concentration/an internment camp accept/house/resettle/turn away refugees fleeing from war fear/threaten military/violent reprisals commit/be accused of war crimes/crimes against humanity/genocidemaking peace make/bring/win/achieve/maintain/promote peace call for/negotiate/broker/declare a ceasefire/a temporary truce sign a ceasefire agreement call for/bring/put an end to hostilities demand/negotiate/accept the surrender of somebody/something establish/send (in) a peacekeeping force negotiate/conclude/ratify/sign/accept/reject/break/violate a peace treaty see also counterattack
  4. criticism
  5. 3[countable, uncountable] attack (on somebody/something) strong criticism of someone or something in speech or in writing a scathing attack on the government's policies The school has come under attack for failing to encourage bright students.
  6. action to stop something
  7. 4[countable] attack (on something) an action that you take to try to stop or change something that you feel is bad to launch an all-out attack on poverty/unemployment
  8. of illness
  9. 5[countable] a sudden, short period of illness, usually severe, especially an illness that you have often to suffer an asthma attack an acute attack of food poisoning a panic attack (figurative) an attack of the giggles see also heart attack
  10. of emotion
  11. 6[countable] a sudden period of feeling an emotion such as fear an attack of nerves
  12. damage
  13. 7[uncountable, countable] the action of something such as an insect, or a disease, that causes damage to something or someone The roof timbers were affected by rot and insect attack.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: attack