at·tack / əˈtak/ • v. [tr.] take aggressive action against (a place or enemy forces) with weapons or armed force, typically in a battle or war: in December, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor | [intr.] the terrorists did not attack again until March. ∎ (of a person or animal) act against (someone or something) aggressively in an attempt to injure or kill. ∎ (of a disease, chemical substance, or insect) act harmfully on: HIV is thought to attack certain cells in the brain. ∎ criticize or oppose fiercely and publicly. ∎ begin to deal with (a problem or task) in a determined and vigorous way: a plan of action to attack unemployment. ∎ [intr.] make an aggressive or forceful attempt to score a goal or point, or gain or exploit an advantage in a game against an opposing team or player. ∎ Chess move into or be in a position to capture (an opponent's piece).• n. an agressive and violent action against a person or place: three classrooms were gutted in the arson attack. ∎ destructive action by a disease, chemical, or insect: the tissue is open to attack by fungus. ∎ a sudden short bout of an illness or stress: an attack of nausea. ∎ an instance of fierce public criticism or opposition: he launched a stinging attack on the White House. ∎ a determined attempt to tackle a problem or task: an attack on inflation. ∎ Mus. the manner of beginning to play or sing a passage. ∎ forceful and decisive style in performing music or another art: the sheer attack of Hendrix's playing. ∎ an aggressive attempt to score a goal, win points, or gain or exploit an advantage in a game. ∎ Chess a threat to capture an opponent's piece.PHRASES: under attack subject to aggressive, violent, or harmful action: his paintings have come under attack for their satanic content.
Hence, or — F. attaque (— It. attacco) attack sb. XVII.