Etymology of Assassin

Thanadon, Kanlapaphruek

Referenced in Arabic as ḥaššāšīn, alluding to the bloodthirsty Nizari mercenaries, partakers of the hallucinogenic grass hashish, substance which reference in Arabic appears as ḥašīš, or of the hemp variant, seen in the Latin cannăbum, for cannăbis, both forms coming from cannabis crops, observing that at first the adjective was limited to pointing out the drug addicts from a natural and derogatory cultural perspective. It is essential to associate both aspects of the meaning, the abuse of the herb and the role of the mercenary, to consolidate its transcendence in the languages of the world, without limiting itself to the addiction itself as many sources suggest because, in fact, they were not necessarily addicts, but used this substance as a source of stimulus and courage.

Going back to the times of the Crusades, between the 11th and 13th centuries, we can find the ranks of the Nizaris in the Middle East, an army of hitmen led by Hassan i-Sabbah (1050-1124) in its heyday, who was also known as The Old Man of the Mountain. Its members were known as hashīshīn, plural form of hashshāsh, who empowered by hashish faced the Christian armies, as well as fulfilling their contract missions. They belonged to the Isma’ili Order, establishing their center of operations in the mountains of Elburz, an area located on the north of Iran, building a fortress called Alamut, abbreviation for Aluh Amujt, meaning eagle’s nest. One of their first famous victims was Nizam Al-Mulk, in 1092, by order of his successor, Malik Shah.

Alamut’s demise would come in 1255, after unleashing the fury of Hulagu Kan, having identified the Nizaris as responsible for the death of his brother Chagatai Kan, which occurred in 1241.
Recorded in the old French as hassasis, evolving into assassin and establishing the English assassin. In Italian, it is interpreted as assassini, influencing the Portuguese configuration of assassino.

Assassin exposes the person responsible for the act of killing, the worst of capital crimes.

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