as·​sas·​si·​na·​tion ə-ˌsa-sə-ˈnā-shən How to pronounce assassination (audio)
plural assassinations
: murder by sudden or secret attack often for political reasons : the act or an instance of assassinating someone (such as a prominent political leader)
the assassination of Abraham Lincoln
an assassination attempt
In medieval days, assassination by poisoning was common enough to alarm many a king, and protection was sought in the form of prayers, food tasters and science.The New York Times
: treacherous destruction of a person's reputation
character assassination

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web The Kremlin drone attack was one sign of escalation in that war, as were assassination attempts — one successful — on Russian pro-war bloggers. Joel Mathis, The Week, 27 May 2023 On Monday, the mayor of Durán, a town outside Guayaquil, was apparently targeted for assassination. Diana Durán, Washington Post, 17 May 2023 Islamic Jihad at first presented several conditions for a cease-fire, including an Israeli commitment to halt assassinations; the release of Mr. Adnan’s body for burial; and the cancellation of the Jerusalem flag parade — conditions that Israel refused. Isabel Kershner, New York Times, 13 May 2023 Those run a gamut from torture and rape to civilian massacres and political assassinations, with Ukraine President Zelenskyy purportedly targeted several times. Dennis Harvey, Variety, 5 May 2023 The attack came nine months since former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe died after being shot at a political rally by a man using a homemade gun in an assassination that rocked Japan and sparked criticism over whether enough security was in place. Junko Ogura, CNN, 17 Apr. 2023 Car bombings, assassinations, torture and kidnapping became a part of daily life for years. Mary Clare Jalonick, ajc, 30 Mar. 2023 The life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. have been the subject of ongoing debate ever since his assassination on April 4, 1968. Roy Whitaker, The Conversation, 30 Mar. 2023 Even though The Manchurian Candidate was long rumored to have been pulled from release after Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, that myth isn’t true. Matt Novak, Forbes, 27 Mar. 2023 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

1610, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of assassination was in 1610

Dictionary Entries Near assassination

Cite this Entry

“Assassination.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Jun. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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