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 \ -​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

After Robert Kennedy was assassinated in June of 1968 — shot in Los Angeles, a day after giving a campaign speech in San Diego — a state assemblyman introduced a resolution to name the bridge after the slain senator. San Diego Union-Tribune, "50 years later, Coronado bridge’s iconic status masks its controversial origins," 4 Aug. 2019 Julius does recall when his base in Mobile, Alabama, was put on alert the day Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. NBC News, "11 brothers from Alabama, 158 years of U.S. military service," 31 July 2019 King, born on Jan. 15, 1929, and assassinated April 4, 1968, changed America forever with his leadership of the civil rights movement. Scott Harrison,, "From the Archives: Los Angeles Times images of Martin Luther King Jr.," 3 Apr. 2018 This is the type of thing, activists, religious leaders and scholars say, that puts Trump’s presidency in direct conflict with the legacy of King, who was assassinated April 4, 1968 while trying to make America a more inclusive society. Errin Haines Whack, The Seattle Times, "Racial firestorm surrounds Trump at MLK holiday," 15 Jan. 2018 Forced to validate the official figure, the minister of the interior, Seth Sendashonga, soon went into exile, and he was later assassinated in Nairobi, Kenya. Maggie Calt, Harper's magazine, "Brutal from the Beginning," 22 July 2019 Sparkle explained how Milk’s legacy lived on after he was assassinated. Rachel Berry,, "Drag queen Sparkle Leigh brings LGBT storytime to Cincinnati church," 18 June 2019 Especially when someone tries to assassinate my character with little girls. Laura Cohen,, "The Complete History of Katy Perry & Taylor Swift's Complicated Friendship," 17 June 2019 The 43-year-old becomes just the second woman to become the city’s mayor—Dianne Feinstein was San Francisco’s first, taking over for George Moscone in 1978 after he was assassinated. Anne Branigin, The Root, "It’s Official: London Breed 1st Black Woman Elected Mayor of San Francisco," 14 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.

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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

15 Aug 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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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).


to move or obtain by small maneuvers

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