It has a meaning of

  • surround (by unfriendly persons)
  • encircle (by unfriendly persons)
  • usher
  • corner
  • hassle
  • crowd
  • sandwich (a person)
  • accompany

Help! How can I find this next time? I tried thesaurus but was unsuccessful.


Besiege. This has a military overtone, but it does mean what you are saying.

  • "Beset" is a synonym. – Hot Licks Jan 6 at 2:34

There's also gherao, which comes from the Hindi word gherna meaning to surround. The Oxford English Dictionary says:

A form of harassment in labour disputes in India and Pakistan, whereby workers detain their employers or managers on the premises, refusing to let them depart until their claims are granted. Hence as v. transitive, to detain (a person) in this manner.

Admittedly not a frequently used word but not overly opaque, as the OED goes on to explain:

These words are not commonly found in general text types like novels and newspapers, but at the same they are not overly opaque or obscure. Nouns include ebullition and merengue, and examples of adjectives are amortizable, prelapsarian...

  • 1
    CED adds the caveat 'Indian English'. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 7 at 12:35

To envelop might be what you are thinking of. The etymology is the military strategy of attacking / defeating the enemy's flanks, and then surrounding the entire enemy formation (think the German 6th Army in Stalingrad) thus denying them re-supply and a means of retreat.

That verb can of course be used metaphorically, or be used more generally to mean plunge something into complete darkness.


Though tangentially synonymous with "surround" I am positive you are looking for the word:


transitive verb

1a: to be situated at the side of especially : to be situated on both sides of a road flanked with linden trees b: to place something on each side of

2: to protect a flank of

3: to attack or threaten the flank of (as a body of troops)


Though its official definition is a bit off the mark (which is a possible why you were not able to find it in a thesaurus), when used in context I believe this is the word.

"They flanked us on both sides." [to sandwich] "We were out maneuvered and out flanked." [in essence to be surrounded] "To my left flank my horse, to my right flank the sea" [Flank in this case means side, but could be mistaken for "accompany"] "The squad was flanked from the north, forcing them south." [could be mistaken for "usher"] "Frank flanked the guard distracting him with his loud outbursts while his wife snuck past stealing the sacks of cash..." [could be mistaken for "hassle"]

Flank implies tactics and therefore attacking or in your case unfriendly people/enemies/combatants.

I hope this is the word and if not at least steers you closer to what you are looking for.


Just watched a movie and the word was used:



I remember its meaning as accompany/surround somebody against his will, which seems to be not correct...


A popular expression, Fish out of water, means

someone who is uncomfortable in a specific situation.

Vague, but its usage mostly conforms to people/ambience around the person.


  • 2
    I don't think fish out of water implies anything about being surrounded, or of unfriendly people doing the surrounding. – nnnnnn Jan 6 at 11:48
  • @nnnnnn Please check the referenced link before piping in. Read the example in the link. Baseless comments are unwelcome here. – Noaman Ali Jan 6 at 11:50
  • 3
    I did, not that I needed to given how common the expression is. The example in the link does not say or imply anything about being encircled. It could apply in a situation with unfriendly people, but it doesn't inherently imply that and is often used for situations involving friendly people. – nnnnnn Jan 6 at 11:53
  • @nnnnnn Have you found an expression that is mot juste to the action in question? I would like to hear it. If you have an answer, feel free to put it forth. Do not dissuade others from doing so. :) – Noaman Ali Jan 6 at 11:57
  • I thought that referred to a fish who had run out of Perrier! – Hot Licks Jan 6 at 13:13

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