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

transitive verb

: to murder (a usually prominent person) by sudden or secret attack often for political reasons
a plot to assassinate the governor
: to injure or destroy unexpectedly and treacherously
assassinate a man's character
assassinator 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 In August, armed men assassinated presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio after leaving a campaign rally in Quito, leaving several others injured. Karol Suárez, The Courier-Journal, 12 June 2024 And then came two gloomy days in 1968 — April 4 and June 5 — when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was gunned down at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles after winning the California presidential primary. George Skelton, Los Angeles Times, 6 June 2024 Many were also protesting Ronald Reagan, a conservative who was running for President, and mourning Harvey Milk, the first out gay man elected to public office in California, who was assassinated in 1978. Olivia B. Waxman, TIME, 6 June 2024 His great-uncle was Earl Mountbatten of Burma, Prince Philip's uncle assassinated by the IRA Lord Ivar’s great-uncle was the Earl Mountbatten of Burma (born Prince Louis of Battenberg), who had a close relationship with his nephew, Prince Philip. Kelsie Gibson, Peoplemag, 5 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for assassinate 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'assassinate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


see assassin

First Known Use

1600, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of assassinate was in 1600

Dictionary Entries Near assassinate

Cite this Entry

“Assassinate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


as·​sas·​si·​nate ə-ˈsas-ᵊn-ˌāt How to pronounce assassinate (audio)
assassinated; assassinating
: to murder a usually important person by a surprise or secret attack
assassination noun

More from Merriam-Webster on assassinate

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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