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

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

Synonyms for assassinate


bump off, croak [slang], dispatch, do in, execute, get, ice [slang], knock off, liquidate, murder, neutralize, off [slang], put away, rub out, slay, snuff, take out, terminate, whack [slang]

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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

An important point of the book is that MLK was assassinated. Zito Madu, GQ, "Art in a World Shaped by Trayvon," 24 Apr. 2018 Black Brazilians have lost one of their biggest champions as beloved activist and politician, Marielle Franco, was assassinated Wednesday night after speaking at a Black women's empowerment event. Britni Danielle,, "Marielle Franco, A Fearless Black Brazilian Politician And Anti-Police Violence Activist, Assassinated In Rio," 15 Mar. 2018 As part of his service, Marcello is ordered to assassinate an enemy — a man who happens to be his old university professor. Aja Romano, Vox, "Why Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Conformist still resonates today," 3 Dec. 2018 To cultivate his ruthless reputation, Valdez ordered a video be taken of the execution of a man from a rival drug gang who’d been dispatched to assassinate Valdez but was captured by his security team. Bill Rankin, ajc, "Notorious drug kingpin known as ‘La Barbie’ to be sentenced in Atlanta," 10 June 2018 This episode takes the team to March 30, 1981, in Washington, D.C., on the day that John Hinckley, Jr., attempted to assassinate President Reagan (The actor? Rachel Kaufman, Smithsonian, "Who Shot the Sheriff? ‘Timeless’ Season 2, Episode 8, Recapped," 7 May 2018 John achieved the presidency only to be assassinated, as was Robert during the course of his own campaign. Bill Goodykoontz, azcentral, "Jason Clarke is terrific as Ted Kennedy in absorbing 'Chappaquiddick'," 5 Apr. 2018 There are less dramatic ways to assassinate someone. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "Pick Your Poison: What the Nerve Gas Assassination Attempt Tells Us About Russia," 13 Mar. 2018 In 1981, a 17-year-old tried to assassinate the Queen, according to documents that remained secret until now, Reuters reports. Megan Friedman, Town & Country, "The Day a New Zealand Teenager Tried to Assassinate the Queen," 1 Mar. 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.

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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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Statistics for assassinate

Last Updated

14 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for assassinate

The first known use of assassinate was in 1600

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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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a flaw that causes the downfall of a hero

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