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

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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

In 2013, two prominent opposition leaders were assassinated in Tunisia. Vivienne Walt, Time, "Meet 4 Crusaders Who Are Keeping the Dream of Democracy Alive," 12 July 2018 But Aung San was assassinated shortly after and the deal fell apart. The Christian Science Monitor, "Myanmar opens peace conference with ethnic rebel groups," 11 July 2018 But he was assassinated only five years later, in 1978, by communists who then took over in Kabul. Maija Liuhto, Longreads, "A Music So Beautiful the Birds Fell from the Trees," 28 June 2018 Robert Kennedy, then a senator from New York, was assassinated moments after winning the Democrats’ presidential primary in California. Annie Linskey,, "Democrats test messages and leaders for next chapter at RFK memorial," 6 June 2018 Less than two weeks later, after winning the California primary on June 5, he was assassinated after a victory speech in Los Angeles. The Daily Astorian,, "Shortly before death, RFK found piece of home on the Oregon coast," 2 June 2018 In April, King was assassinated, leading to riots and unrest in many cities. Matthew Glowicki, The Courier-Journal, "In Louisville's Parkland neighborhood, the scars of 1968 riots are still visible," 26 May 2018 Five months after the movie was released, Kennedy was assassinated. Karina Bland, azcentral, "An unexpected find in a Vietnam shop, a journey home for a Marine's dog tag," 23 May 2018 In 1913 Song Jiaoren was assassinated after being elected prime minister in the country’s first attempt at democratic polls. The Economist, "The next sunriseIdeas from abroad take time to percolate," 17 May 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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Last Updated

10 Oct 2018

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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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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).


evasion of direct action or statement

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