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Pronunciation (US): 

 Dictionary entry overview: What does onset mean? 

ONSET (noun)
  The noun ONSET has 2 senses:

1. the beginning or early stages
2. (military) an offensive against an enemy (using weapons)

  Familiarity information: ONSET used as a noun is rare.

 Dictionary entry details 

ONSET (noun)

Sense 1onset [BACK TO TOP]


The beginning or early stages

Classified under:

Nouns denoting natural events


oncoming; onset

Context example:

the onset of pneumonia

Hypernyms ("onset" is a kind of...):

start (the beginning of anything)

Sense 2onset [BACK TO TOP]


(military) an offensive against an enemy (using weapons)

Classified under:

Nouns denoting acts or actions


attack; onrush; onset; onslaught

Context example:

the attack began at dawn

Hypernyms ("onset" is a kind of...):

military operation; operation (activity by a military or naval force (as a maneuver or campaign))

Meronyms (parts of "onset"):

assault (close fighting during the culmination of a military attack)

Domain category:

armed forces; armed services; military; military machine; war machine (the military forces of a nation)

Hyponyms (each of the following is a kind of "onset"):

ground attack (an attack by ground troops)

strafe (an attack of machine-gun fire or cannon fire from a low flying airplane)

fire; firing (the act of firing weapons or artillery at an enemy)

bombardment; bombing (an attack by dropping bombs)

counterattack; countermove (an attack by a defending force against an attacking enemy force in order to regain lost ground or cut off enemy advance units etc.)

strike (an attack that is intended to seize or inflict damage on or destroy an objective)

blitz; blitzkrieg (a swift and violent military offensive with intensive aerial bombardment)

incursion; penetration (an attack that penetrates into enemy territory)

diversion; diversionary attack (an attack calculated to draw enemy defense away from the point of the principal attack)

banzai attack; banzai charge (a mass attack of troops without concern for casualties; originated by Japanese who accompanied it with yells of 'banzai')

charge (a impetuous rush toward someone or something)

coup de main; surprise attack (an attack without warning)

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