Meaning of assegai in English:


Pronunciation /ˈasəɡʌɪ/

See synonyms for assegai on

Translate assegai into Spanish

nounplural noun assegais

(also assagai)
  • 1A slender, iron-tipped, hardwood spear used chiefly by southern African peoples.

    ‘Inside the village, park visitors could divide their attention, and their spare change, between a fortune-telling ‘bone thrower’ and a neutered ‘warrior,’ harmlessly gyrating with his assegai and shield.’
    • ‘Their assailants were armed with knobkierries, assegais and machetes.’
    • ‘Police recovered five rifles, 18 sidearms, 84 bullets, and 700 assegais in follow-up house-to-house searches.’
    • ‘A large cache of weapons, including assegais, pangas, and axes, was confiscated, most of which were concealed in nearby forests.’
    • ‘There're a lot of interesting things to buy: tyre sandals, walking sticks, assegais, knobkerries, bead necklaces, Zulu pots and drums.’
    • ‘A police presence has been established to stabilise the area after 171 men were arrested and rifles, sidearms, ammunition, assegais and pangas seized.’
    • ‘It had an effect just like the longbow at Agincourt - and the Gatling gun, which eventually defeated the Zulus with their assegais.’
    • ‘By the 1870s, mounted cavalry with muzzle-loaders, even breech-loaders, rather than foot soldiers with shields and assegais, were the spearhead of a number of surviving African armies.’
    • ‘They carried no javelins, only the largest assegai.’
    • ‘Traditional surgeons such as Ntsasa are invited to workshops to teach them how to sterilise assegais and prevent the spread of HIV-Aids or other diseases.’
    • ‘They can inherit anything from as little as an assegai to as much as a few beasts.’
    • ‘Painted in pink, with black and white drawings of Zulu shields and assegais and cast-iron three-legged pots on the walls, the conference building can hold up to 500 people.’
    • ‘He was presented with a traditional shield, assegai and a framed picture of African heritage.’
    • ‘Ordinarily he would be pinned to a banyan tree with an assagai before he'd read sports pages.’
    • ‘The irreplaceable steel-bladed assegai were saved for close-in work.’
  • 2

    (also assegai wood)
    A South African tree of the dogwood family, which yields hard timber.

    Curtisia dentata, family Cornaceae

    ‘They surveyed the forest and studied the trees, identifying yellow wood, stinkwood, assegai wood, pear, alder and half a dozen other varieties.’
    • ‘Other common trees of the forests read like nature's picnic basket: wild pear, wild peach, African holly, assegai wood, forest olive or ironwood, white stinkwood… the list goes on.’

verbverb assegais, verb assegaing, verb assegaied

(also assagai)
[with object]
  • Wound or kill with an assegai.

    ‘he was a very brave man but he was eventually assegaied’
    • ‘Many of the soldiers indeed were assegaied before they could leave their tents, most were slaughtered at once, but a few managed to swim across the river.’
    • ‘One determined Zulu even jumped over the barricade and assegaied a disoriented patient to death, though he himself was quickly picked off by a British rifleman.’
    • ‘I could of course make no answer to this, so he sent men who clubbed or assegaied four of the culprits, but two escaped.’
    • ‘I found there a man in a red coat badly assegaied in the arm, unable to move.’


Early 17th century from obsolete French azagaie or Portuguese azagaia, from Arabic az-zaġāyah, from az, al ‘the’ + Berber zaġāyah ‘spear’.