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assegai Syllabification: as·se·gai
Pronunciation: /ˈasəˌɡī/
(also assagai)

Definition of assegai in English:

noun (plural assegais)

1A slender, iron-tipped, hardwood spear used chiefly by southern African peoples.
Example sentences
  • Inside the village, park visitors could divide their attention, and their spare change, between a fortune-telling ‘bone thrower’ and a neutered ‘warrior,’ harmlessly gyrating with his assegai and shield.
  • Their assailants were armed with knobkierries, assegais and machetes.
  • Police recovered five rifles, 18 sidearms, 84 bullets, and 700 assegais in follow-up house-to-house searches.
2 (also assegai wood) A South African tree of the dogwood family that yields hard timber.
  • Curtisia dentata, family Cornaceae
Example sentences
  • They surveyed the forest and studied the trees, identifying yellow wood, stinkwood, assegai wood, pear, alder and half a dozen other varieties.
  • Other common trees of the forests read like nature's picnic basket: wild pear, wild peach, African holly, assegai wood, forest olive or ironwood, white stinkwood… the list goes on.

verb (assegais, assegaing, assegaied)

[with object] Back to top  
Wound or kill with an assegai.
Example sentences
  • We retired well, but I shall never forget the Kaffirs getting in amongst us and assegaing our poor fellows.
  • Many of the soldiers indeed were assegaied before they could leave their tents, most were slaughtered at once, but a few managed to swim across the river.
  • One determined Zulu even jumped over the barricade and assegaied a disoriented patient to death, though he himself was quickly picked off by a British rifleman.


Early 17th century: from obsolete French azagaie or Portuguese azagaia, from Arabic az-zaġāyah, from az, al 'the' + Berber zaġāyah 'spear'.

Definition of assegai in:
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