ninja

noun
nin·​ja | \ ˈnin-jə How to pronounce ninja (audio) , -(ˌ)jä \
plural ninja also ninjas

Definition of ninja

: a person trained in ancient Japanese martial arts and employed especially for espionage and assassinations

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Did You Know?

Ninjas may seem mysterious, but the origin of their name is not. The word ninja derives from the Japanese characters "nin" and "ja." "Nin" initially meant "persevere," but over time it developed the extended meanings "conceal" and "move stealthily." In Japanese, "ja" is the combining form of sha, meaning "person." Ninjas originated in the mountains of Japan over 800 years ago as practitioners of ninjutsu, a martial art sometimes called "the art of stealth" or "the art of invisibility." They often served as military spies and were trained in disguise, concealment, geography, meteorology, medicine, and also other martial arts. Popular legends still associate them with espionage and assassinations, but modern ninjas are most likely to study ninjutsu to improve their physical fitness and self-defense skills.

Examples of ninja in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The pieces feature patterns and functional elements inspired by the Naruto Japanese anime and manga franchise, another Jordan favorite, starring a ninja who strives to be the best. Ingrid Schmidt, The Hollywood Reporter, "Michael B. Jordan Talks New Unisex Fashion Line for Coach," 1 Oct. 2019 Evan Spiliotopoulos wrote the script for the solo installment, which is said to center on Snake Eyes seeking revenge for his father’s death by joining a ninja clan and in the process finding acceptance. Borys Kit, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Raid' Star Iko Uwais in Talks to Join G.I. Joe Spinoff 'Snake Eyes' (Exclusive)," 6 Sep. 2019 Over the years, other Halloween children’s costumes were also recognized as either racist or insensitive including a prisoner, a hobo, a ninja, Day of the Dead representations, a Native American and Pocahontas. Sonja Haller, USA TODAY, "A parents' guide to cultural appropriation: an expert breaks down kids' Halloween costumes," 18 Oct. 2019 The ninja-style headwear is not part of the NBA uniform and hasn’t been through the league approval process. Ira Winderman, sun-sentinel.com, "Jimmy Butler won’t be arriving as Ninja for Heat," 9 Sep. 2019 One had suggested the storming crowd adopt the forward-leaning running style used by an anime ninja named Naruto Uzumaki to increase speed and outpace security. Los Angeles Times, "Storm Area 51 creator: ‘I sparked a movement while I was bored at 2 a.m.’," 12 Sep. 2019 Most candles extinguished by nunchucks in one minute Xie Desheng snuffed out 52 open flames with nothing but ninja-like precision. Scottie Andrew, CNN, "Pinky pull ups, mayo eating and other weird feats in the new Guinness World Records book," 8 Sep. 2019 Andre Koji is already set to play Storm Shadow, a ninja who is both Snake Eyes’ blood bother and archenemy. Borys Kit, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Raid' Star Iko Uwais in Talks to Join G.I. Joe Spinoff 'Snake Eyes' (Exclusive)," 6 Sep. 2019 An American ninja kept following me around downtown Tokyo. Matthew Gault, Time, "Judgement Is the Perfect Game for Getting Into Japan's Favorite Crime Series," 24 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ninja.' 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 ninja

1964, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for ninja

Japanese, from nin- persevere, conceal, move stealthily + -ja person

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Time Traveler for ninja

Time Traveler

The first known use of ninja was in 1964

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Statistics for ninja

Last Updated

12 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Ninja.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ninja. Accessed 20 January 2020.

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More Definitions for ninja

ninja

noun
How to pronounce ninja (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of ninja

: a fighter who is trained in the Japanese martial arts

ninja

noun
nin·​ja | \ ˈnin-jə How to pronounce ninja (audio) \
plural ninja also ninjas

Kids Definition of ninja

: a person trained in ancient Japanese martial arts who works as a spy and assassin especially in the past

Comments on ninja

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not to be intimidated or subdued

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