as·​sas·​si·​nate | \ ə-ˈsa-sə-ˌnāt How to pronounce assassinate (audio) \
assassinated; assassinating

Definition of assassinate

transitive verb

1 : to murder (a usually prominent person) by sudden or secret attack often for political reasons a plot to assassinate the governor
2 : to injure or destroy unexpectedly and treacherously assassinate a man's character

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Other Words from assassinate

assassinator \ ə-​ˈsa-​sə-​ˌnā-​tər How to pronounce assassinator (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for assassinate


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Choose the Right Synonym for assassinate

kill, slay, murder, assassinate, dispatch, execute mean to deprive of life. kill merely states the fact of death caused by an agency in any manner. killed in an accident frost killed the plants slay is a chiefly literary term implying deliberateness and violence but not necessarily motive. slew thousands of the Philistines murder specifically implies stealth and motive and premeditation and therefore full moral responsibility. convicted of murdering a rival assassinate applies to deliberate killing openly or secretly often for political motives. terrorists assassinated the Senator dispatch stresses quickness and directness in putting to death. dispatched the sentry with one bullet execute stresses putting to death as a legal penalty. executed by lethal gas

Examples of assassinate in a Sentence

They discovered a secret plot to assassinate the governor. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.
Recent Examples on the Web As early in 1965, Israel’s Mossad helped the king of Morocco assassinate an exiled opposition leader in France. Yaroslav Trofimov, WSJ, "The Gulf Arabs Weary of Protesting for Palestine," 9 Oct. 2020 Fred Zinnemann’s genteel, nobody-can-keep-a-secret drama alternates between the viewpoints of a killer hired to assassinate French President Charles de Gaulle and officials who are fighting a ticking clock to catch him. Chris Hewitt, Star Tribune, "Are you being watched? 7 of the best paranoid thrillers of the 1970s," 7 Oct. 2020 In the late 1950s, a spray gun that fired a cloud of poison cyanide gas was used by a former KGB agent to assassinate two Ukrainian nationalist leaders. Meg Neal, Popular Mechanics, "Nature's Toxic Gifts: The Deadly Story of Poison," 4 Oct. 2020 There’s also no evidence that doctors have ever intentionally attempted to assassinate a president. Miriam Fauzia, USA TODAY, "Fact check: Alex Jones' claims about Trump's COVID-19 treatments, 'deep state' are false," 5 July 2012 The idea seems to be that the wire would be close enough to fry whomever the CIA wanted to assassinate with 300 million volts of electricity. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The CIA Once Considered Using Lightning to Assassinate People," 22 Sep. 2020 The president's warning came in response to a report that Iran was plotting to assassinate the U.S. ambassador to South Africa in retaliation for Soleimani's killing at Baghdad's airport at the beginning of the year., "Iran Vows 'Hit' on All Involved in U.S. Killing of Top General," 19 Sep. 2020 The president's warning came in response to a report that Iran was plotting to assassinate the U.S. ambassador to South Africa in retaliation for Soleimani's killing at Baghdad's airport on January 3. Bradford Betz, Fox News, "Iran's Revolutionary Guard threatens retaliation for all involved in killing of Soleimani," 20 Sep. 2020 He was also called upon to study the case of Sara Jane Moore, who tried to assassinate President Gerald Ford in San Francisco three years later. Jacques Kelly,, "Dr. Jonas R. Rappeport, retired forensic psychiatrist who worked on cases of attempted presidential assassinations, dies," 9 Sep. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'assassinate.' 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 assassinate

1600, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for assassinate

see assassin

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Time Traveler for assassinate

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The first known use of assassinate was in 1600

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Statistics for assassinate

Last Updated

17 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Assassinate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for assassinate


How to pronounce assassinate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of assassinate

: to kill (someone, such as a famous or important person) usually for political reasons


as·​sas·​si·​nate | \ ə-ˈsa-sə-ˌnāt \
assassinated; assassinating

Kids Definition of assassinate

: to murder a usually important person by a surprise or secret attack

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