im·peach | \ im-ˈpēch \
impeached; impeaching; impeaches

Definition of impeach 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to charge with a crime or misdemeanor specifically : to charge (a public official) before a competent tribunal with misconduct in office

b : to remove from office especially for misconduct

c : to bring an accusation against

2 : to cast doubt on especially : to challenge the credibility or validity of impeach the testimony of a witness



Definition of impeach (Entry 2 of 2)


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Other words from impeach


impeachable \im-ˈpē-chə-bəl \ adjective
impeachment \im-ˈpēch-mənt \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for impeach

Synonyms: Verb

accuse, charge, incriminate, indict

Antonyms: Verb

absolve, acquit, clear, exculpate, exonerate, vindicate

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Did You Know?

Only two presidents have faced an impeachment trial, both of them Democrats and both of them acquitted. The first was Andrew Johnson, who in 1868 was acquitted by one vote of violating the previous year’s Tenure of Office Act. The second was Bill Clinton, who in 1998 was acquitted by a much larger margin of perjury and obstructing justice in relation to the Monica Lewinsky scandal. But only one president, Republican Richard Nixon, has ever resigned, and that was to avoid inevitable impeachment for corruption in relation to the Watergate scandal. Nixon was granted an unconditional pardon by his successor Gerald Ford.

Examples of impeach in a Sentence


Congress will vote on whether or not to impeach the President. The defense lawyers tried to impeach the witness's testimony by forcing him to admit that he had changed his story.

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Kavanaugh, a staunch conservative and a former law clerk for Kennedy, was a top deputy to Kenneth M. Starr, the Independent Counsel in the drive to impeach President Clinton. Colleen Shalby,, "Trump's leading picks for Kennedy's replacement would shift Supreme Court to conservative majority," 27 June 2018 The Democrats who are most passionate about their possible opportunity to impeach Donald Trump are making such a process less likely and more feckless. Elizabeth Drew, The New Republic, "The End of Impeachment," 10 Apr. 2018 On this February day, the crowds came to watch members of the House vote to impeach President Andrew Johnson, the first time such an event had ever occurred in U.S. history. Lorraine Boissoneault, Smithsonian, "The Political Circus and Constitutional Crisis of Andrew Johnson’s Impeachment," 27 Feb. 2018 That's a vast oversimplification of Brett Kavanaugh's role in drafting the 1998 Starr Report, which laid out grounds for impeaching President Bill Clinton that included lying to his staff and the American people. Aaron Blake, Washington Post, "Brett Kavanaugh, Trump and what the Starr Report says about impeachment, annotated," 11 July 2018 That applies, for example, to those convicted by a panel of judges or someone who resigned from office to avoid being impeached. Jill Langlois,, "Brazil's judges duel over whether to release former President Lula from prison," 9 July 2018 Here are some of the notable events of the past 150 years: 1868 President Andrew Johnson impeached (but not convicted). Merrie Monteagudo,, "History in headlines," 15 Apr. 2018 His public defender at the time, Brendan Hurson, sought to impeach Hersl’s credibility by trying to obtain the lengthy history of complaints about him that reached the Baltimore Police Department’s internal affairs unit. Justin Fenton,, "Baltimore man served time for having gun he says was planted by a corrupt city police officer. Now he wants his record cleared," 29 June 2018 Steyer, a California billionaire, is funding a national television advertising campaign that calls for Democrats to rally behind impeaching Trump. Author: Felicia Sonmez, Robert Costa, Anchorage Daily News, "Feud over civility in politics escalates amid Trump insults," 26 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'impeach.' 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 impeach


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1c


1590, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for impeach


Middle English empechen, from Anglo-French empecher, enpechier to ensnare, impede, prosecute, from Late Latin impedicare to fetter, from Latin in- + pedica fetter, from ped-, pes foot — more at foot

Transitive verb

Anglo-French empecher, from Old French empeechier to hinder, from Late Latin impedicare to fetter, from Latin in- + pedica fetter, from ped-, pes foot

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Last Updated

21 Sep 2018

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

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English Language Learners Definition of impeach

: to charge (a public official) with a crime done while in office

: to cause doubts about the truthfulness of (a witness, testimony, etc.)


im·peach | \ im-ˈpēch \
impeached; impeaching

Kids Definition of impeach

: to charge a public official formally with misconduct in office


transitive verb
im·peach | \ im-ˈpēch \

Legal Definition of impeach 

1 : to charge with a crime or misconduct specifically : to charge (a public official) before a competent tribunal (as the U.S. Senate) with misconduct in office

Note: Impeachment is the first step in removing an officer from office. The president, vice president, and other federal officers (as judges) may be impeached by the House of Representatives. (Members of Congress themselves are not removed by being impeached and tried, but rather are expelled by a two-thirds majority vote in the member's house.) The House draws up articles of impeachment that itemize the charges and their factual bases. The articles of impeachment, once approved by a simple majority of the House members, are then submitted to the Senate, thereby impeaching the officer. The Senate then holds a trial, at the conclusion of which each member votes for or against conviction on each article of impeachment. Two-thirds of the Senate members present must vote in favor of conviction. Once convicted, the officer can be removed from office. Although the Constitution specifies that an officer is to be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors, impeachment can also occur for misconduct that is not necessarily criminal (as violation of the Constitution). Because impeachment is the first step taken to remove an officer from office, impeach is often used in general contexts to refer to the removal itself, but that is not its specific legal meaning. An officer generally cannot be impeached for acts done prior to taking office.

2 : to cast doubt on: as

a : to attack the validity of (a judgment or verdict) because of judicial or juror misconduct

b : to challenge the credibility of (a witness) or the validity of (a witness's testimony) a witness, including a criminal defendant who testifies in his own behalf, may be impeached on the ground of former conviction —W. R. LaFave and A. W. Scott, Jr. — see also impeachment evidence at evidence — compare rehabilitate

Note: A witness may be impeached by character evidence or circumstantial evidence relating to the credibility of the witness, and especially on the grounds of prior convictions, prior inconsistent statements, contradiction by other evidence, and the witness's reputation for truth, prior acts of misconduct, and partiality.

Other words from impeach

impeachable adjective
impeachment noun

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