No, that’s not the start of a bad joke. We’re actually curious.
Carin and I were having breakfast and chatting as usual when I made a comment that somebody was “a rapist at worst and an…assaulter? at best.” It occurred to us that if there’s a word for someone who commits assaults, neither of us knows it, and that it’s kind of weird that we wouldn’t if it exists. And if it doesn’t exist, why doesn’t it? We have words for all kinds of other criminals, so how did assault find itself left out? Just off the top of my head I can come up with rapist, burglar, murderer, strangler, fraudster, voyeur, robber and thief, and that’s by no means a complete list I’m sure. It’s just what I could do without thinking hard. Is the problem that assault is too broad a category? It does seem like a catch -all type term for a lot of things (punching, kicking, spitting, sometimes even stabbing), so maybe that’s it. But maybe there’s an assaulter, assaultist, assaultizer, assaultrix, assaultinator or even an assaulthief floating around in some dictionary or criminal code somewhere that nobody uses anymore. If there is, we’d like to know about it.