assassin

as·sas·sin (ə-săs’ĭn)
n. 1) One who murders by surprise attack, especially one who carries out a plot to kill a prominent person. 2) Assassin A member of a militant subgroup of Ismailis that in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries carried out political assassinations directed especially against Seljuk rule.
[French, from Medieval Latin assassīnus, from Arabic ḥaššāšīn, pl. of ḥaššāš, hashish user, from ḥašīš, hashish; see HASHISH(Cf. ↑hashish).]
Word History: The history of the word assassin shows how legends can influence the development of words as powerfully as facts. European legends about a murderous, drug-crazed sect called the Assassins grew up around the Nizaris, a group of Ismaili Shi'ite Muslims that held strongholds in Iran and Syria from the 11th to the 13th century. The Nizaris opposed the rule of the Seljuk dynasty and the Abbasid caliphs, who were Sunni and regarded the Nizaris as unorthodox outcasts. Sunni accounts of the Nizaris accused them of all sorts of irreligious practices, and one term of abuse applied to the Nizaris was the Arabic word ḥaššāšīn, meaning "hashish users." Reliable sources, however, offer no evidence of hashish use by Nizaris. The Nizaris mounted resistance to this persecution, and one of their most formidable weapons against the Seljuks was the threat of sudden execution by secret agents. Attacks on several leaders among the Crusaders were also attributed to Nizari agents. When the Crusaders returned to Europe, they embellished upon what they had heard about the Nizaris from the group's enemies and told sensational stories about the ḥaššāšīn or Assassins. Marco Polo spun a tale of how young Assassins were given a potion and made to yearn for paradise—their reward for dying in action—by being given a life of sensual pleasure before their secret missions. As the legends spread, the word ḥaššāšīn passed through Italian and French and appeared in English as assassin in the 1500s, already with meanings like "treacherous killer."

Word Histories. 2014.

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  • assassin — assassin, ine [ asasɛ̃, in ] n. m. et adj. • 1560; it. assassino, assessino (déb. XIVe) « tueur à gages », empr. à l ar. assasin, plur. de assas « gardien », plutôt qu à un dér. de hasis « haschich » I ♦ N. m. Personne qui commet un meurtre avec… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • assassin — 1. (a sa sin) s. m. Celui qui assassine. Un lâche assassin. L assassin fut saisi, tenant encore son arme. •   Soyons des ennemis et non des assassins, RAC. Andr. IV, 3. •   Pour moi, mon ennemi, l objet de ma colère, L auteur de mes malheurs, l… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • Assassin — Жанры трэш метал Годы с 1983 наши дни Страна …   Википедия

  • Assassin — steht für: Assassinen, eine geschichtliche ismailitische Sekte, heute auch als Bezeichnung für einen hinterhältigen Mörder Assassin (Band), eine deutsche Thrash Metal Band Assassin (Musiker), ein jamaikanischer Musiker Siehe auch:… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • assassin — ASSASSIN. s. m. Meurtrier de guetapens, de dessein formé, et en trahison. L assassin a été pris. On a arrêté les assassins.Assassin, ine. adj. Fer assassin. On dit aussi figurément au moral: Des yeux assassins. Une mouche assassine. Il n est… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française 1798

  • Assassin — Curieux patronyme porté aujourd hui en Île de France, rencontré en Seine Maritime au XVIe siècle (Saint Germain sur Eaulne, 1587). Difficile d y voir un assassin, d autant que le terme, avec son sens actuel, n est pas apparu en France avant 1560 …   Noms de famille

  • ASSASSIN — ASSASSIN, ASSASSINAT. SECTION PREMIÈRE.     Nom corrompu du mot Ehissessin. Rien n est plus ordinaire à ceux qui vont en pays lointain que de mal entendre, mal répéter, mal écrire dans leur propre langue ce qu ils ont mal compris dans une langue… …   Dictionnaire philosophique de Voltaire

  • assassin — assassin, cutthroat, gunman, bravo designate a murderer or one who can be hired to murder in cold blood. Assassin stresses secrecy and treachery in operation {like assassins, these destructive animals do their work in the dark} It is chiefly… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • assassin — ASSASSIN. s. m. Meurtrier de guet à pens, soit en trahison, soit avec advantage. Si on prend l assassin, il sera roüé …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • assassin — m. assassin ; tueur …   Diccionari Personau e Evolutiu

  • Assassin — As*sas sin, n. [F. (cf. It. assassino), fr. Ar. hashishin one who has drunk of the hashish. Under its influence the Assassins of the East, followers of the Shaikh al Jabal (Old Man of the Mountain), were said to commit the murders required by… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English


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