Definition of assassin in English:

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Pronunciation: /əˈsasɪn/


1A person who murders an important person for political or religious reasons.
Example sentences
  • She knew now he was not sleeping, and had been murdered by the assassins who lay dead on her floor.
  • Police believe the victim may not have even seen the assassin who murdered him with a single shot to the back.
  • This particular guild was a home to 75 of the best thieves, assassins and cut throats in Europe.
informal hitman, contract man, hired gun
North American informal button man
literary slayer
dated homicide
2 (Assassin) A member of the Nizari branch of Ismaili Muslims at the time of the Crusades, when the newly established sect ruled part of northern Persia (1094–1256). They were renowned as militant fanatics, and were popularly reputed to use hashish before going on murder missions.
Example sentences
  • In the 11 th century in the Middle East the Shiite sect known as the Assassins would eat hashish before murdering civilian foes.
  • In June, the Sultan had an Assassin try to murder Prince Edward.
  • The Muslim Cult of Assassins of the 12th and 13th centuries, like the Jewish Zealots of the 1st, have been enrolled for this genealogical purpose.


Mid 16th century: from French, or from medieval Latin assassinus, from Arabic ḥašīšī 'hashish-eater'.

  • During the Crusades political and religious leaders were targeted for murder by a fanatical sect of Ismaili Muslims led by Hassan-i-Sabbah, known as the ‘Old Man of the Mountains’. Members of the sect were said to prepare themselves for these deeds by smoking or chewing hashish or cannabis, and were accordingly known in Arabic as hasīsī, ‘hashish-eaters’, which was filtered through French and eventually became our word assassin.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: as¦sas|sin

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