immunity

noun
im·​mu·​ni·​ty | \ i-ˈmyü-nə-tē How to pronounce immunity (audio) \
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 — see also active immunity, passive immunity

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Synonyms for immunity

Synonyms

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Frequently Asked Questions About immunity

Is it 'immune to' or 'immune from'?

In most cases, if you are immune to something, it has no effect on you—for example, you might be immune to a disease or to criticism. If you are immune from something, it cannot reach you—for example, you might be immune from prosecution in a plea bargain.

What is the immune system?

The immune system is what protects your body from diseases and infections. It's the bodily system that produces the immune response to defend your body from foreign substances, cells, and tissues. The immune system includes various parts of the body including the thymus, spleen, lymph nodes, special deposits of lymphoid tissue (such as those in the gastrointestinal tract and bone marrow), macrophages, lymphocytes including the B cells and T cells, and antibodies.

What is herd immunity?

The term herd immunity refers to a reduction in the likelihood of someone catching a specific infectious disease because a significant proportion of the people in that person's community are immune to it. If you are less likely to come in contact with an infectious person, you're less likely to get infected yourself. The people in a community can be immune to a particular disease especially through previous exposure or vaccination.

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 This would have stripped the officers of qualified immunity and allowed Day's mother's civil case to proceed. Emily Hopkins, USA TODAY, "Fact check: Amy Coney Barrett ruled that police did not knowingly violate Black teen's rights," 19 Nov. 2020 Features resident artists who create art to provide a sort of immunity against the fear, isolation, and the chaos of these troubling times. Mary Lou Cruz, sun-sentinel.com, "Calendar: Virtual community, entertainment events beginning Nov. 18," 16 Nov. 2020 Atlas has spoken in favor of herd immunity through infection as a way to reopen the economy and schools. Michael Williams, SFChronicle.com, "Stanford rebukes Scott Atlas following his controversial ‘rise up’ tweet," 16 Nov. 2020 The answer could be the difference between a vaccine that builds up a protective wall of immunity in communities and one that just keeps people out of the hospital (and the morgue). Megan Molteni, Wired, "Why It's a Big Deal If the First Covid Vaccine Is 'Genetic'," 10 Nov. 2020 But the influenza virus mutates rapidly, so the vaccine has to change every year to try to give the population a reasonable level of immunity. Rachael Zisk, Popular Science, "You can have COVID-19 without symptoms, but what about the flu?," 6 Nov. 2020 No one's born with any kind of immunity to COVID-19. Elizabeth Gulino, refinery29.com, "Let’s Talk About COVID-19 Immunity," 6 Nov. 2020 The feud over the origins of immunity was political and cultural as well as scientific. James Somers, The New Yorker, "How the Coronavirus Hacks the Immune System," 2 Nov. 2020 Millions could die without communities ever reaching the goal of high levels of immunity. Melody Schreiber, The New Republic, "Doctors Are Appalled by White House’s “Barbaric” New Coronavirus Strategy," 26 Oct. 2020

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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Time Traveler for immunity

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for immunity

Last Updated

24 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Immunity.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/immunity. Accessed 30 Nov. 2020.

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More Definitions for immunity

immunity

noun
How to pronounce immunity (audio)

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

immunity

noun
im·​mu·​ni·​ty | \ i-ˈmyü-nə-tē How to pronounce immunity (audio) \
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)

immunity

noun
im·​mu·​ni·​ty | \ im-ˈyü-nət-ē How to pronounce immunity (audio) \
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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immunity

noun
im·​mu·​ni·​ty | \ i-ˈmyü-nə-tē How to pronounce immunity (audio) \
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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