Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A light spear or lance, especially one with a short shaft and long blade for close combat, used by Bantu peoples of southern Africa.
  • n. A southern African tree (Curtisia dentata) having wood used for making spears or lances.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A slim hardwood spear or javelin with an iron tip, especially those used by Bantu peoples of Southern Africa.
  • n. The tree species Curtisia dentata, because its wood is traditionally used to made assegais.
  • v. To spear with an assegai.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Same as assagai.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • See assagai.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the slender spear of the Bantu-speaking people of Africa

Etymologies

Obsolete French azagaie, probably from Old Spanish azagayah, from Arabic az-zaġāya : al-, the + Berber zaġāya, spear.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French azagaie (now zagaie) or Portuguese azagaia, Spanish azagaya, from colloquial Arabic الزغاية (al-zaghaya), from Berber zaġāya ("spear"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Another example, the Zulu warriors that fought the British over in Africa used the assegai, which is really just a fancy spear and couldn't make any Spartan jaws drop in awe, maybe in laughter or curiosity, but certainly not in awe.

    Down under on the right side

  • Bushman (who does not desire to kill them!) and the slender "assegai" of the Bechuana, the lion has little or no fear of man.

    Popular Adventure Tales

  • The sergeant, in the act of climbing over the tailboard, let out a hell of a shriek; I glimpsed his face, red and staring, and his arm flung out to point, and then his eyes stared horribly, and he slumped down into the dust, with a throwing assegai between his shoulders, his limbs thrashing wildly.

    Watershed

  • I came dizzily to my feet, to stare at the empty ravine, with a great black cloud billowing in the air above it, a few shreds of rope and timber dangling from the far lip, and on this side, lying in the dust, a single assegai.

    Watershed

  • Suddenly Ki-Gor was beside him, hacking and stabbing with the assegai.

    The Green-Eyed Shwemyethna

  • His spine prickling, Ki-Gor stepped back a pace and shifted his grip on the assegai blade.

    The Green-Eyed Shwemyethna

  • Silently, he offered the butt end of his assegai for Robert to hold, and the oddly assorted pair moved slowly down the path.

    The Green-Eyed Shwemyethna

  • Ki-Gor landed lightly on his feet and instantly struck with the assegai blade in his right hand.

    The Green-Eyed Shwemyethna

  • Ki-Gor reached down, shook Helene's shoulder roughly, and seized the blade of the assegai.

    The Green-Eyed Shwemyethna

  • At the head of the party, Ki-Gor picked his way cautiously, an assegai held ready in his right hand.

    The Green-Eyed Shwemyethna

Comments

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  • "Here-elsewhere: with deadly violence, a mixture of countries traveled, pieces of a life torn to shreds, a body scraped off the ground, appearance peculiar and untidy, blood stains; sweat, strife, toil: incursion of rebel assegais where the mountain rises up in fortification."
    Talismano by Abdelwahab Meddeb, translated by Jane Kuntz, p 6 of the Dalkey Archive paperback

    September 13, 2011