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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from assassinate

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

Synonyms for assassinate


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 Walk through the Roman Forum, where Julius Caesar was assassinated by conspirators. National Geographic, "Italy and Greece Expedition: Empires of the Mediterranean," 10 Sep. 2019 By year’s end, after two officers, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, were assassinated by a gunman — an act that some linked to the new anti-police culture — officers turned their backs on the mayor at the funerals. Michael Wilson, New York Times, "After Pantaleo, Wary N.Y.P.D. Officers Say No One Has Their Backs," 22 Aug. 2019 When two American politicians are assassinated by the Russian mafia, the sitting U.S. president whips out a supersecret codicil to the U.S. Constitution authorizing him to ignore federal law in an emergency. Bruce Desilva, Dallas News, "'The Russian' by Ben Coes is a preposterous thriller," 30 July 2019 But Lübcke is the first politician to be assassinated by far-right militants in postwar Germany. Katrin Bennhold,, "A political murder and far-right terrorism: Germany’s new hateful reality," 7 July 2019 FCI Dublin previously housed Sara Jane Moore, who attempted to assassinate President Gerald Ford in 1975, and Autumn Jackson, who was convicted of trying to extort Bill Cosby for $40 million. Wire Service, The Mercury News, "This is the East Bay prison where Felicity Huffman wants to spend her sentence," 15 Sep. 2019 FCI Dublin previously housed Sara Jane Moore, who attempted to assassinate President Gerald Ford in 1975, and Autumn Jackson, who was convicted of trying to extort Bill Cosby for $40 million. Dakin Andone, CNN, "This is the California prison where Felicity Huffman wants to spend her 14-day sentence," 14 Sep. 2019 The man who tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan is interested in getting a job in the music industry, possibly in California. Jessica Gresko, Fortune, "The Man Who Tried to Assassinate President Reagan Wants a Job in the Music Industry," 10 Sep. 2019 Both were assassinated in 1968, Kennedy while running for president. Jeff Bailey, The Denver Post, "Biden at campaign stop: What if Obama had been assassinated?," 23 Aug. 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of assassinate

1600, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for assassinate

see assassin

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about assassinate

Statistics for assassinate

Last Updated

24 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for assassinate

The first known use of assassinate was in 1600

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for assassinate


How to pronounce assassinate (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


not being in agreement or harmony

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Confusing Words—A Quiz

  • alice with tweedle dee and tweedle dum
  • I invented a brand new toaster robot and ______ it "Sir Toasts-a-Lot."
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!