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[uh-sas-in] /əˈsæs ɪn/
a murderer, especially one who kills a politically prominent person for fanatical or monetary reasons.
(initial capital letter) one of an order of Muslim fanatics, active in Persia and Syria from about 1090 to 1272, whose chief object was to assassinate Crusaders.
Origin of assassin
1525-35; < Medieval Latin assassinī (plural) < Arabic ḥashshāshīn eaters of hashish Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for assassin
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • From the first to the last moment of her reign, she combined the courtesan with the assassin.

    Ridgeway Scian Dubh
  • An instrument in harmony with the sentiments of an assassin.

    The Devil's Dictionary Ambrose Bierce
  • He felt that the family dignity was struck at by an assassin's hand.

    Little Dorrit Charles Dickens
  • And yet the paper was in his possession; and, she it was who had rescued him from the assassin's knife.

    The Inn at the Red Oak Latta Griswold
  • He did not proclaim the vendetta against the assassin of his father.

British Dictionary definitions for assassin


a murderer, esp one who kills a prominent political figure
Word Origin
C16: from Medieval Latin assassīnus, from Arabic hashshāshīn, plural of hashshāsh one who eats hashish


a member of a secret sect of Muslim fanatics operating in Persia and Syria from about 1090 to 1256, murdering their victims, usually Crusaders
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for assassin

1530s (in Anglo-Latin from mid-13c.), via French and Italian, from Arabic hashishiyyin "hashish-users," plural of hashishiyy, from hashish (q.v.). A fanatical Ismaili Muslim sect of the time of the Crusades, under leadership of the "Old Man of the Mountains" (translates Arabic shaik-al-jibal, name applied to Hasan ibu-al-Sabbah), with a reputation for murdering opposing leaders after intoxicating themselves by eating hashish. The plural suffix -in was mistaken in Europe for part of the word (cf. Bedouin).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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