as·sas·si·nate | \ ə-ˈsa-sə-ˌnāt \
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

Keep scrolling for more

Other words from assassinate

assassination \ə-ˌsa-sə-ˈnā-shən \ noun
assassinator \-ˈsa-sə-ˌnā-tər \ noun

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

Then in 1995, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who had pursued negotiations with the Palestinians, was assassinated by a Jewish extremist opposed to the plan. NBC News, "Amid Trump's Mideast push, an abandoned building reminds Palestinians of past failures," 16 June 2018 Among those assassinated by the regime since Kim Jong Un took power in 2011 after his father’s death are Kim’s half brother and his uncle., "Mike Pompeo heading to North Korea to meet with Kim Jong Un again," 9 May 2018 Louis was the name of Prince Phillip’s grandfather, Prince Louis Alexander of Battenberg, as well as Prince Charles’ great-uncle Earl Louis Mountbatten, who was assassinated by the IRA in 1979. Cady Lang, Time, "Kate Middleton and Prince William Just Announced Their Royal Baby's Name Is Prince Louis Arthur Charles," 27 Apr. 2018 According to Town and Country, the name Louis also pays tribute to the Prince Philip's uncle and Prince Charles's mentor, the late Lord Louis Mountbatten, who was assassinated by the IRA in 1979. Leada Gore,, "New royal baby named; how do you pronounce prince's name?," 27 Apr. 2018 On April 14 in 1865, president Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth while attending a production of Our American Cousin at Ford's Theatre. Steve Heisler, Chicago Reader, "Archive Dive / Chicagoans / Politics Daniel Weinberg loves Abraham Lincoln (and especially Abraham Linclon) more than you do," 12 Apr. 2018 If necessary, Berg was to assassinate the principal architect of the Nazis’ nuclear ambitions, physicist Werner Heisenberg. Michael O’sullivan, kansascity, "Paul Rudd’s ‘The Catcher Was a Spy’ bobbles a fascinating real-life story," 28 June 2018 In Zimbabwe, President Emmerson Mnangagwa was unscathed by a bomb explosion at a campaign rally that state media called an attempt to assassinate him, the Associated Press reported. Hadra Ahmed,, "Explosions hit rallies for leaders of Ethiopia, Zimbabwe," 23 June 2018 Can’t wait to assassinate every target while wearing a flamingo mascot costume and wielding a half-frozen fish. Brad Chacos, PCWorld, "The best PC games of E3 2018," 15 June 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of assassinate

1600, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for assassinate

see assassin

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about assassinate

Share assassinate

Statistics for assassinate

Last Updated

12 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for assassinate

The first known use of assassinate was in 1600

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for assassinate



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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on assassinate

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


alleviating pain or harshness

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!