Definition of assassin in English:



  • 1A person who murders an important person for political or religious reasons.

    • ‘The real targets of these laws will not be bomb throwers or assassins.’
    • ‘The combination of the assassins, of time, of blame, and his own inevitable errors mean that someone else must take on the job.’
    • ‘However, I was an assassin, trained to kill with or without a good reason.’
    • ‘Paramilitary assassins used live ammunition and shot to the head.’
    • ‘He was murdered under mysterious circumstances; the assassin has never been found.’
    • ‘One of the assassins was traced to the village of Lidice which was to pay a terrible price for having one of its townsfolk involved in this killing.’
    • ‘We also give the name of the assassin who attempted three days ago to murder an SEP member.’
    • ‘She knew now he was not sleeping, and had been murdered by the assassins who lay dead on her floor.’
    • ‘Cyanide is a colourless, lethal, water-soluble poison occasionally used by mafia assassins.’
    • ‘It's unlikely a professional assassin would have shown his face or made a getaway on foot.’
    • ‘Both presidents were assassinated in office and both assassins used their middle names for preference.’
    • ‘This particular guild was a home to 75 of the best thieves, assassins and cut throats in Europe.’
    • ‘The men who were on the terrace were obviously not the actual assassins.’
    • ‘After all, the assassins are willing to kill and wound hundreds to get one man.’
    • ‘It focuses brilliantly on political intrigue and high stakes and assassins and crumbling empires.’
    • ‘She seeks revenge upon the other assassins with whom she worked.’
    • ‘The assassin hadn't killed him yet - that was important given the skill this man had.’
    • ‘From his comment, Flynn obviously knew the reason why his assassin was there.’
    • ‘Police believe the victim may not have even seen the assassin who murdered him with a single shot to the back.’
    • ‘He would like to deny that history which depicts Turks as assassins, or apportion blame to the Armenians.’
    murderer, killer, executioner, gunman, butcher, slaughterer, liquidator, exterminator, terminator
    hitman, contract man, hired gun
    button man
    View synonyms
  • 2A 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.

    • ‘In June, the Sultan had an Assassin try to murder Prince Edward.’
    • ‘The Crusaders mistook the Nizaris' association with political murder with hashish addiction and spawned the Assassins legend.’
    • ‘In November 1126, he was stabbed to death by an Assassin.’
    • ‘In the 11 th century in the Middle East the Shiite sect known as the Assassins would eat hashish before murdering civilian foes.’
    • ‘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.