Origin of the Word Assassination [Who, Where & History]

Assassination is a pungent word that is often used in the news media, journalism, and political rhetoric. But what is the origin of the word assassination and what does it actually mean?

Word assassination has its roots in the Nizārī Ismāʿīliyyah, a religious movement that developed among followers of Shi’i Islam during the late 11th century. The word “assassin” comes from the Latin word assassinus which again comes from the corrupted Arabic word hashīshīn which means ‘hashish-eater.

Perhaps you were aware of this. But how did this word come to be used in such a violent context? And who was he? This article answers these questions, and more!

Origin of the Word Assassination

executor vs eliminator

The origin of the word assassination lies in the actions of the infamous group The Nizārī Ismāʿīliyyah. 

The word originates from the word Hashshashin and shares its etymological roots with hashish. 

It referred to a group of Nizari Ismailis known as the Order of Assassins who worked against various enemies.

The Nizārī Ismāʿīliyyah is a religious movement that developed among followers of Shi’i Islam during the late 11th century. 

It advocates killing those who do not follow its teachings and was thus instrumental in developing modern-day traditions.

The Nizārī Ismāʿīliyyah has its primary base of support in northern India, where it has been active since the late 11th century. 

It is also known as the “Assassins” because of their purported use of murder and terror. 

The group was instrumental in developing modern-day traditions, including the use of highly trained agents who would commit political murders for their leaders.

Who Invented the Word Assassination?

If you want to find out who invented the word assassination, you’ll have to go all the way back to ancient Persia. 

The word was first used by Nizari Ismailis in the 11th century. 

They were an Islamic sect that lived in Persia and Syria and believed that the only way to establish peace was to eliminate those who were causing instability. 

As such, they would assassinate leaders of opposing nations and religions, often by poisoning them.

Where Did the Word Assassin Come From?

Many people are keen to know where did the word assassin come from? 

The word comes from the Arabic word hashish, which is a drug that was used by members of the Nizari Ismailis sect to kill people.

The Ismailis were a group of Shia Muslims who liquidate their enemies with daggers hidden in their robes. They were also known as Hashshashin, or “hashish eaters.” 

Europeans adopted the word to describe these secret killers, who eventually infiltrated European countries like France and Italy.

This included being able to change their appearance at will, walk through walls, and even kill without being noticed.

Interested when the word nerd and vomit are invented?

Another Word for Assassination

Assassination is the act of killing someone in a cold and calculated way. Many words mean eliminate, and they’re all pretty negative. 

But it’s important to remember that just because they’re negative doesn’t mean they’re not useful.

But if you’re looking for another word for this particular term, you would be surprised by the number of them. 

Here are just some of them:

  • Execution
  • Bloodshed
  • Murder
  • Manslaughter
  • Homicide 
  • Carnage
  • Massacre
  • Slaughter
  • Killing
  • Slaying
  • Butchery
  • And many more.

Most Famous Assassinations in History

Where Did the Word Assassin Come From

The most famous assassinations in history are those of political figures and leaders. 

These executors have been remembered for centuries, and are often considered to be among the most significant events in history.

The most “popular” eliminators in history are the ones that either changed the course of history or sent a shockwave through society. 

One of the first and the most famous recorded executer was Julius Cesar, in 44 B.C

During his reign as Roman emperor, he was stabbed to death by 60 senators who were upset with him for not stepping down from power and giving it to them instead. 

Who Were the First Assassins?

It’s hard to tell who is the first assassin in the world. If you’re a Christian who has read the Bible at least once, then you know that Cain is the first one in the world.

Cain was born to Adam and Eve, who were the first humans on Earth.

Cain was a farmer, and he committed his first murder when he killed his brother Abel. 

He killed Abel because God preferred Abel’s offering over Cain’s offering.

Famous leaders who were assassinated

There are plenty of famous leaders who have been liquidated. Some of them were even eliminated from the very office they occupied at the time. 

Here are a few famous assassinations in history:

  • Abraham Lincoln: Lincoln was executed on April 14th, 1865 at Ford’s Theater in Washington DC by John Wilkes Booth. Lincoln had just watched Our American Cousin with his wife and friends when Booth entered the theater and shot him in the back of his head
  • Franz Ferdinand: He was in Sarajevo in 1914 by Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip, which is considered to be one of the sparks that started World War I.
  • Mahatma Gandhi: Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was a prominent Indian activist who led India’s non-violent movement for freedom against British rule between 1915–1947. He was hit by Nathuram Vinayak Godse on January 30 1948 at age 78.
  • John F Kennedy: On November 22nd, 1963, President John F Kennedy was shot in Dallas Texas. Lee Harvey Oswald killed him by shooting him twice.

Famous Medieval Assassinations

In the Middle Ages, assassins were hired to kill people. 

They were known to be ruthless and efficient. Here are some of the most famous medieval ones:

  • Giuliano de’ Medici—Giuliano de’ Medici was a Florentine nobleman and the brother of Lorenzo de’ Medici. He was eliminated by his cousin, Lorenzino de’ Medici, in 1516.
  • Thomas Becket—He was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1162 to 1170. He was murdered by political rivals in Canterbury Cathedral.
  • William Wallace—He fought for Scottish independence from the English in the late 13th century, and was executed for his crimes in 1305.

Famous Female

  • Mata Hari was a Dutch exotic dancer who was executed as a spy during World War I. She was accused of spying for Germany and sentenced to death by firing squad at the age of 41.
  • Bridgitte Mohnhaupt is a German terrorist and one of the most famous female assassins in history. 
  • She was born in 1944, in East Germany, and was a member of the Red Army Faction (RAF), which was a far-left militant group that committed assassinations and bombings in West Germany during the 70s and 80s.
  • Kim Hyon-Hui was a North Korean spy who was responsible for an assassination attempt on the South Korean president, Park Chung-hee. She was a member of the North Korean secret police and participated in the bombing of Korean Air Flight 858, killing 115 passengers.

Celebrity Assassinations

When it comes to this topic we can’t mention famous celebrity assassinations.

  • Princess Diana was a loved member of the British royal family who died tragically in a car crash after being chased by paparazzi on August 31st, 1997. 
  • John Lennon was the lead singer of The Beatles from 1960 to 1970 before going solo in 1971. He was shot five times outside his New York apartment building by Mark David Chapman on December 8th, 1980. 
  • Gianni Versace was an Italian fashion designer who founded his own eponymous house in 1978. He also worked with brands like Valentino and Yves Saint Laurent before being murdered by Andrew Cunanan on July 15th, 1997 outside his Miami Beach mansion

Famous Assassinations in the 21st Century

  • Moamar Gadhafi: You can’t talk about famous assassinations in the 21st century without talking about Moammar Gadhafi. The former leader of Libya was slain by rebels on October 20, 2011.
  • Osama Bin Laden was a terrorist who founded al-Qaeda with Ayman al-Zawahiri. He was killed on May 1, 2011, by US Navy SEALs at his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
  • Benazir Bhutto was the Prime Minister of Pakistan from 1988 to 1990 and again from 1993 to 1996. She was also the first woman to lead a Muslim-majority country. She was killed on 27 December 2007 during an election rally in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.
  • Shinzo Abe One of the most recent famous executer is where Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe was killed on July 8, 2022.

Famous Assassins in Mythology

The assassins are one of the most interesting characters in mythology. 

Their motives, methods, and consequences are often shocking and fascinating.

The most famous people in mythology are:

  • Clytemnestra – the wife of Agamemnon, conceived a hatred for her husband after he murdered their daughter Iphigenia to appease Artemis. Upon Agamemnon’s return from the Trojan War, Clytemnestra and her lover, Aegisthus, killed him.
  • Medea – Jason’s wife who helped him steal the Golden Fleece from Colchis. After they separated, Medea killed Jason’s new wife with poison before killing their mutual children.

Artemisia – An assassin hired by Xerxes to kill Leonidas at Thermopylae because she thought that if he died then his army would lose morale and not continue fighting against Persia anymore instead she fell in love with him.


Check the most common questions and answers related to this topic.

What do you call an assassin?

Murdering a prominent or important person, such as a head of state or government leader, is called assassination.

What is the most famous assassination?

One of the most famous assassinations happened in the Roman Empire when Gaius Julius Caesar was killed.

When was the word assassination first used?

In written form, this noun is first used in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, published in 1623.


Hopefully, you found this look at the history and etymology of the origin of the word assassination to be informative and fascinating. 

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns regarding this article, please don’t hesitate to reach out in the comments section below. I’d love to hear from you!