as·sas·sin | \ə-ˈsa-sᵊn \

Definition of assassin 

1 capitalized : a member of a Shia Muslim sect who at the time of the Crusades was sent out on a suicidal mission to murder prominent enemies

2 : a person who commits murder especially : one who murders a politically important person either for money or from fanatical adherence to a cause

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Examples of assassin in a Sentence

John Wilkes Booth was the assassin of Abraham Lincoln. shot down by an unknown assassin

Recent Examples on the Web

Babchenko explained that his death had been faked as part of sting by Ukrainian security services to catch his would-be assassin. Washington Post, "Journalist joins ranks of stranger-than-fiction faked deaths," 30 May 2018 The premise of Bill Hader and Alec Berg’s new eight-part HBO comedy is that Barry is an assassin, but a reluctant one. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "The Dark Humanity of Barry," 22 Mar. 2018 Vernita Green was a cold-blooded assassin hiding out in the suburbs of Pasadena — until Uma Thurman comes to get her. Vivica A. Fox, Time, "Vivica A. Fox: How Uma Thurman Helped Me Through ‘Kill Bill’ With Quentin Tarantino," 20 Mar. 2018 Why did the presumed would-be assassin choose something so specific and traceable? Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, "Poisoning of Russian spy raises troubling questions," 12 Mar. 2018 British officials determined that the Skripals were likely poisoned after a would-be assassin smeared the nerve agent on the front door handle of Mr. Skripal’s home. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Second Novichok poisoning in Britain raises alarm, questions over contamination," 5 July 2018 Charlie Day is a coarse arms dealer trying to hail a heli-cab out of L.A.; Sofia Boutella portrays a French assassin who’s a Luc Besson dream and a sleek nightmare of knife-fighting and stiletto-kicking skills. Michael Phillips,, "Jodie Foster patches the wounded in lively future-crime saga 'Hotel Artemis'," 8 June 2018 There is a female assassin who goes by the codename Bach. The Economist, "Bill Clinton’s debut thriller is an exercise in wish-fulfilment," 7 June 2018 Guitarist Brent Smith, bass player Garrett Ney and drummer Tom Lageveen are angular assassins — clinically precise as their sound throbs, rumbles and resembles an air-raid siren. David Lindquist, Indianapolis Star, "Record Store Day acts set off musical fireworks at Indianapolis shops," 22 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'assassin.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of assassin

circa 1520, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for assassin

Medieval Latin assassinus, from Arabic ḥashshāshīn, plural of ḥashshāsh worthless person, literally, hashish user, from hashīsh hashish

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Statistics for assassin

Last Updated

22 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for assassin

The first known use of assassin was circa 1520

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More Definitions for assassin



English Language Learners Definition of assassin

: a person who kills someone (such as a famous or important person) usually for political reasons or for money : a person who assassinates someone


as·sas·sin | \ə-ˈsa-ˌsᵊn \

Kids Definition of assassin

: someone who kills another person usually for pay or from loyalty to a cause

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Comments on assassin

What made you want to look up assassin? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a state of commotion or excitement

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