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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for assassin

Contemporary Examples of assassin

Historical Examples of assassin

  • From the first to the last moment of her reign, she combined the courtesan with the assassin.


    Scian Dubh

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

  • 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.

  • 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 for assassin

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

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