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 assassinate (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for assassinate


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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 addition to its attacks against Afghan minorities and civilian institutions, the group has targeted international aid workers, land-mine removal efforts and even tried to assassinate the top US envoy to Kabul in January 2021. Jordan Weinstock, Quartz, 28 Aug. 2021 In addition to its attacks against Afghan minorities and civilian institutions, the group has targeted international aid workers, land-mine removal efforts and even tried to assassinate the top U.S. envoy to Kabul in January 2021. Amira Jadoon, The Conversation, 26 Aug. 2021 May 1993 - Gunmen with the Tijuana Cartel attempt to assassinate Guzmán in retribution, firing upon a vehicle at an airport. Cnn Editorial Research, CNN, 23 July 2021 That specific edition of the handgun was used to assassinate investigative journalist Miroslava Breach Velducea in 2017, according to the lawsuit. Zach Murdock,, 24 Aug. 2021 Those players work together, completing menial tasks to keep everything up and running, while one or two of them are cast as surreptitious double agents who assassinate those oblivious crewmates. Luke Winkie, Vulture, 19 Aug. 2021 The Miami area is looming ever larger as investigators question the men held in the plot to assassinate Haitian President Jovenel Moïse. Anchorage Daily News, 11 July 2021 There were legal questions about whether the U.S. had the right to essentially assassinate bin Laden, analysts say. Gary Robbins, San Diego Union-Tribune, 20 June 2021 Such as the Maquis, who'd hid out in the mountains and snuck down at night to assassinate the occupying Germans and blow up railway lines? Ew Staff,, 3 Aug. 2021

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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The first known use of assassinate was in 1600

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Last Updated

24 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Assassinate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Oct. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on assassinate

Nglish: Translation of assassinate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of assassinate for Arabic Speakers


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