The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Assail \As*sail"\ ([a^]s*s[=a]l"), v. t. [imp. & p. p.
Assailed (-s[=a]ld"); p. pr. & vb. n. Assailing.] [OE.
assailen, asailen, OF. asaillir, assailler, F. assaillir; a
(L. ad) + saillir to burst out, project, fr. L. salire to
leap, spring; cf. L. assilire to leap or spring upon. See
1. To attack with violence, or in a vehement and hostile
manner; to assault; to molest; as, to assail a man with
blows; to assail a city with artillery.
No rude noise mine ears assailing. --Cowper.
No storm can now assail
The charm he wears within. --Keble.
2. To encounter or meet purposely with the view of mastering,
as an obstacle, difficulty, or the like.
The thorny wilds the woodmen fierce assail. --Pope.
3. To attack morally, or with a view to produce changes in
the feelings, character, conduct, existing usages,
institutions; to attack by words, hostile influence, etc.;
as, to assail one with appeals, arguments, abuse,
ridicule, and the like.
The papal authority . . . assailed. --Hallam.
They assailed him with keen invective; they assailed
him with still keener irony. --Macaulay.
Syn: To attack; assault; invade; encounter; fall upon. See