im·​mu·​ni·​ty | \ i-ˈmyü-nə-tē \
plural immunities

Definition of immunity

: the quality or state of being immune especially : a condition of being able to resist a particular disease especially through preventing development of a pathogenic microorganism or by counteracting the effects of its products

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Synonyms for immunity


exemption, impunity

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Examples of immunity in a Sentence

They have developed immunity to the virus. They have developed an immunity to the virus.

Recent Examples on the Web

These phytonutrients protect against oxidative stress and chronic inflammation, thereby boosting immunity and helping reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Jaclyn London, Ms, Rd, Cdn, Good Housekeeping, "Fact: Cabbage Packs the Same Nutritional Benefits as Kale," 7 Jan. 2019 In addition to recommending a diet that’s low in sugar, high in protein, and completely devoid of dairy, Peacock has also formulated a line of nutritional supplements targeting everything from immunity to sleep to best aid her clients. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "All the Ways Meghan Markle Has Transformed Prince Harry’s Bad Boy Health Habits," 4 Jan. 2019 That case was eventually dismissed after Congress gave AT&T and other telecom companies retroactive immunity under the FISA Amendments Act of 2008; similar lawsuits floundered, too. Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica, "The Snowden Legacy, part one: What’s changed, really?," 21 Nov. 2018 Meanwhile, Special Counsel Robert Mueller asked a federal judge to give immunity to five people who may testify at former Trump campaign boss Paul Manafort’s trial on bank fraud charges, which starts next week. Recode Staff, Recode, "Recode Daily: What Trump meant to say about Russia was ...," 18 July 2018 Kelly Norton was given immunity in the case in exchange for her testimony. Ryan Randazzo, azcentral, "Bribery trial involving Johnson Utilities, Corporation Commission in jurors' hands," 29 June 2018 Judge Hamilton initially denied Gelhaus’s request for immunity in 2016, according to The Press Democrat of Santa Rosa, California. Kaylen Ralph, Teen Vogue, "The Supreme Court Denied the Appeal of a Cop Who Fatally Shot a 13-Year-Old Carrying a Toy Gun," 26 June 2018 On Thursday, attorney general Jeff Sessions cited the bible in defense of the administration's policy, saying that having children does not give migrants immunity from prosecution under American law. Gil Kaufman, Billboard, "Willie Nelson Calls Trump Administration 'Zero-Tolerance' Immigration Policy 'Outrageous'," 15 June 2018 At that point, Waldor says, the standard practice would have been to give the vaccine to test animals, wait the usual two or three weeks for immunity to develop and then challenge the vaccine by injecting cholera. Richard Conniff, Scientific American, "New Probiotic Cholera Vaccine Can Outrace the Infection’s Rapid Spread," 13 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'immunity.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of immunity

14th century, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for immunity

Last Updated

4 Feb 2019

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Time Traveler for immunity

The first known use of immunity was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for immunity



English Language Learners Definition of immunity

medical : the power to keep yourself from being affected by a disease
: special protection from what is required for most people by law


im·​mu·​ni·​ty | \ i-ˈmyü-nə-tē \
plural immunities

Kids Definition of immunity

1 : freedom from an obligation or penalty to which others are subject immunity from punishment
2 : the power to resist infection whether natural or acquired (as by vaccination)


im·​mu·​ni·​ty | \ im-ˈyü-nət-ē \
plural immunities

Medical Definition of immunity

: the quality or state of being immune especially : a condition of being able to resist a particular disease especially through preventing development of a pathogenic microorganism or by counteracting the effects of its products — see acquired immunity, active immunity, natural immunity, passive immunity

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im·​mu·​ni·​ty | \ i-ˈmyü-nə-tē \
plural immunities

Legal Definition of immunity

1 : exemption from a duty or liability that is granted by law to a person or class of persons a defendant may not take the stand in his own behalf and then claim immunity from cross-examination— W. R. LaFave and A. W. Scott, Jr. also : the affirmative defense of having such an exemption
absolute immunity
: immunity from all personal civil liability without limits or conditions (as a requirement of good faith) — compare qualified immunity in this entry
charitable immunity
: immunity from civil liability especially for negligent torts that is granted to a charitable or nonprofit organization (as a hospital)
constitutional immunity
: immunity (as from a tax) that is granted or created by a constitution (as the U.S. Constitution)
corporate immunity
: immunity from personal liability for tortious acts that is granted to an officer of a corporation who acted in good faith and within the course of his or her duties — see also business judgment rule — compare pierce
diplomatic immunity
: immunity (as from taxes or prosecution) granted to a diplomat
discovery immunity
discretionary immunity
: qualified immunity from civil liability for tortious acts or omissions that arise from a government employee's discretionary acts performed as part of the employee's duties — see also the Federal Tort Claims Act

Note: The Federal Tort Claims Act includes an additional requirement of acting in good faith for the discretionary immunity granted to the federal government.

executive immunity
: immunity granted to officers of the executive branch of government from personal liability for tortious acts or omissions done in the course of carrying out their duties

Note: While the president's executive immunity is absolute, the immunity of other federal executive officials is qualified.

governmental immunity
: discretionary immunity granted to a governmental unit (as an agency) or its employees broadly : sovereign immunity in this entry
judicial immunity
: absolute immunity from civil liability that is granted to judges and other court officers (as prosecutors and grand juries) and quasi-judicial officials for tortious acts or omissions done within the scope of their jurisdiction or authority
legislative immunity
: absolute immunity from civil liability that is granted to legislators for tortious acts or omissions done in the course of legislative activities — see also speech or debate clause
official immunity
: discretionary immunity from personal liability that is granted to public officers for tortious acts and omissions — compare governmental immunity in this entry
qualified immunity
: immunity from civil liability that is conditioned or limited (as by a requirement of good faith or due care) specifically : official immunity from damages for acts that violate another's civil rights that is granted if it can be shown that the acts do not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would be aware — see also Civil Rights Act
sovereign immunity
: the absolute immunity of a sovereign government (as a state) from being sued — see also Federal Tort Claims Act

Note: For an action to be brought against a state or the federal government, sovereign immunity must be waived by the government.

transactional immunity \ tran-​ˈzak-​shə-​nəl-​, -​ˈsak-​ \
: immunity from criminal prosecution granted to a witness for an offense related to his or her compelled testimony — see also use immunity in this entry
use immunity
: immunity granted to a witness in a criminal case that prevents the use of the witness's compelled testimony against that witness in a criminal prosecution

Note: Transactional and use immunity are granted to preserve the constitutional protection against self-incrimination. The states grant either form of this immunity, while the federal government grants only use immunity. A witness with use immunity may still be prosecuted, but only based on evidence not gathered from the protected testimony.

2 : a usually statutory prohibition that excludes specific documents or information from discovery

called also discovery immunity

History and Etymology for immunity

Latin immunitas, from immunis exempt from public service, exempt, from in- non- + -munis (from munia services)

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Comments on immunity

What made you want to look up immunity? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to deny responsibility for

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