An assassination is the murder of a public figure. Assassinations are usually politically motivated. If someone kills your dog, that’s not an assassination, that’s just murder (unless your dog was running for mayor).

A murder is the unjust, illegal killing of someone. An assassination is a type of murder in which the victim is someone well known, usually in the world of politics. The killings of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King were assassinations: their purpose was to destabilize the government and hurt the civil rights movement, respectively. As assassination is murder plus politics.

Definitions of assassination
  1. noun
    murder of a public figure by surprise attack
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    type of:
    execution, murder, slaying
    unlawful premeditated killing of a human being by a human being
  2. noun
    an attack intended to ruin someone's reputation
    synonyms: blackwash, character assassination
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    type of:
    calumniation, calumny, defamation, hatchet job, obloquy, traducement
    a false accusation of an offense or a malicious misrepresentation of someone's words or actions
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