What differentiates an assassination from common garden variety murder? Murder is the taking of a human life without lawful authorisation or excuse recklessly, intentionally or during the commission of some other criminal act (called felony murder in some American jurisdictions).
All assassinations, therefore, are murders. What sets assassinations apart from murders though is that they are the murders of public figures of social, religious or political significance carried out by stealth or surprise and motivated by some political or idealogical purpose.
Heads of state, politicians, religious leaders, dissidents, military leaders and social activists, therefore, can all be the victims of assassins whereas other public figures such as musicians, movie stars, journalsits and other public figures are the victims of murderers.
Kennedy was assassinated by Oswald but Oswald was murdered by Ruby to apply the above formulation to a real life scenario.
What follows is a list of seventeen of some of the most infamous assassinations throughout history. Feel free to comment as you feel appropriate.