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

The mosquito assassin’s scientific name is Toxorhynchites rutilus. Kaila Contreras, Houston Chronicle, "Harris County breeds carnivorous plants, mosquito assassins to limit mosquito population," 7 July 2018 The poisoning of two more people, apparently by accident, may provide a new data point about how the assassin worked. New York Times, "English City, Stunned, Tries to Make Sense of New Poisonings," 5 July 2018 In the 1995 movie, 007 - played by Pierce Brosnan - raced the classic British sports car around the Monaco hills in pursuit of Xenia Onatopp, the Ferrari-driving assassin played by Famke Janssen. Fox News, "James Bond's Aston Martin DB5 from GoldenEye set to sell for over $2 million," 23 May 2018 Before Jordan entered the league in 1984, the baby-face assassin trounced the competition with his athletic prowess and bulletproof swagger. Carl Lamarre, Billboard, "Kid Ink on Creating New Song 'One Time' for 'Unbanned' Documentary & Michael Jordan's Impact on Hip-Hop," 3 May 2018 What if Robert Kennedy had decided not to take a shortcut through the kitchen at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, where an assassin was waiting for him on the night he was killed? John Blake, CNN, "The question that haunts Martin Luther King's last day in Memphis," 3 Apr. 2018 The difference is that Riot’s official Beat Saber level is infused with the colors of K/DA and features unique graphics, including notes of the song that are shaped like the claws of one particular League assassin. Shannon Liao, The Verge, "League of Legends’ K-pop hit comes to VR game Beat Saber," 21 Dec. 2018 Or maybe there will be an Asian-American Spider-Man, or an Asian family that lives in a haunted house, or an Asian-American mother turned assassin who’s ready to take revenge on her family’s killers. Alex Abad-santos, Vox, "Crazy Rich Asians’ crazy rich success could mean more stories about less crazy rich Asian-American people.," 21 Dec. 2018 Sadat’s assassins were military officers who became militants. Hamza Hendawi, The Seattle Times, "Egyptian investigators in Libya to question wanted militant," 9 Oct. 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

15 Jan 2019

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 complex dispute or argument

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