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A guard with assegai in South Africa, 1943.

Alternative formsEdit


From French azagaie (now zagaie) or Portuguese azagaia, Spanish azagaya, from colloquial Arabic اَلزَّغَايَة(az-zaḡāya), from Proto-Berber *zaġāya (spear).



assegai (plural assegais)

  1. A slim hardwood spear or javelin with an iron tip, especially those used by Bantu peoples of Southern Africa.
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 8, in The Celebrity:
      My client welcomed the judge […] and they disappeared together into the Ethiopian card-room, which was filled with the assegais and exclamation point shields Mr. Cooke had had made at the sawmill at Beaverton.
    • 1902, Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness, Tank Form 2007, p.99:
      Native mats covered the clay walls; a collection of spears, assegais, shields, knives was hung up in trophies.
    • 1922, James Joyce, Ulysses:
      A birdchief, bluestreaked and feathered in war panoply with his assegai, striding through a crackling canebrake over beechmast and acorns.
    • 1994, Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom, Abacus 2010, p. 32:
      Without a word, he took my foreskin, pulled it forward, and then, in a single motion, brought down his assegai.
  2. The tree species Curtisia dentata, the wood of which is traditionally used to make assegais.


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


assegai (third-person singular simple present assegais, present participle assegaiing, simple past and past participle assegaied)

  1. To spear with an assegai.

See alsoEdit