impeach

verb
im·​peach | \ im-ˈpēch How to pronounce impeach (audio) \
impeached; impeaching; impeaches

Definition of impeach

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to charge with a crime or misdemeanor specifically : to charge (a public official) before a competent tribunal with misconduct in office After Andrew Johnson, the first president to be impeached, finished his chaotic and disgraceful administration, Grant was the inevitable successor. — Richard Brookhiser
2 : to cast doubt on especially : to challenge the credibility or validity of impeach the testimony of a witness The Husby's credit rating was impeached because IRS managers were unable to stop the … computer from generating false information. — David Burnham A basic rule of evidence permits any witness to be impeached by establishing that she made a prior statement inconsistent with the current testimony. — Jack H. Friedenthal et al.

impeach

noun

Definition of impeach (Entry 2 of 2)

obsolete

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Other Words from impeach

Verb

impeachable \ im-​ˈpē-​chə-​bəl How to pronounce impeachable (audio) \ adjective
impeachment \ im-​ˈpēch-​mənt How to pronounce impeachment (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for impeach

Synonyms: Verb

accuse, charge, criminate, defame [archaic], incriminate, indict

Antonyms: Verb

absolve, acquit, clear, exculpate, exonerate, vindicate

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Does impeach mean "to remove from office"?: Usage Guide

Verb

Testimonial evidence indicates that references to (and calls for) "impeaching" a public official are commonly understood to refer not simply to charging that official with misconduct "before a competent tribunal," but to actually removing the official from office. The interpretation is understandable if not legally accurate, since removal from office is typically the goal of impeachment, and there seems to be little doubt that the "remove" sense is what many people have in mind when they think or talk about impeaching a president, governor, judge, or other official. But clear examples of impeach being used to mean "remove" in published sources are rarely seen (in many contexts, the meaning is ambiguous), and when such use does occur, it is likely to be cited as an error.

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

Verb

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

The House would draft articles and vote on whether to impeach him. Jason Silverstein, CBS News, "Could Brett Kavanaugh be impeached? Here's what the Constitution says," 16 Sep. 2019 The endless investigations into Trump and his campaign have turned up a great deal of unseemly behavior and bad judgment — these being traditional Trump trademarks — but there’s a reason the effort to impeach him is going nowhere. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, "Resist?," 15 Sep. 2019 In 2006, Congress even held a hearing about impeaching him. Joe Mathews, The Mercury News, "Mathews: Nation’s longest serving judge was a tyrant in the court," 2 Aug. 2019 Congresswoman Diana DeGette must work to impeach him, serve those subpoenas and get to the bottom of this mess. Dp Opinion, The Denver Post, "Letters: No unity in the analysis of Mueller testimony (7/28/19)," 28 July 2019 Congress now heads into the August recess, and the time is fast approaching when Democrats are likely to conclude that defeating Trump in the 2020 election takes precedence, and is more feasible, than impeaching him before then. Susan Page, USA TODAY, "From impeachment to indictment: 5 repercussions from Robert Mueller's testimony," 25 July 2019 At one point, Mr. Trump seemed to mix together his frustrations with the Mueller testimony and his criticism of the four lawmakers by lashing out at the House for taking a vote to impeach him. Michael D. Shear, New York Times, "Trump and His Aides Seek to Dismiss Mueller Hearings as a Desperate Act," 22 July 2019 Donald Trump won the election, was investigated by a special counsel and now some Democrats want to impeach him. Joey Morona, cleveland.com, "Cavaliers won NBA championship on this day in 2016: 16 things that have changed since then," 19 June 2019 But most of the talk and the colorful images were just what the White House wanted to showcase Trump as a statesman while, back home, the race to succeed him — and talk of impeaching him — heated up. Jonathan Lemire And Kevin Freking, chicagotribune.com, "President Trump turns from pomp to business in UK visit," 4 June 2019

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

Verb

1569, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

1590, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for impeach

Verb

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

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Learn More about impeach

Dictionary Entries near impeach

impavid

impawn

impayable

impeach

impearl

impeccable

impeccancy

Statistics for impeach

Last Updated

5 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for impeach

The first known use of impeach was in 1569

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More Definitions for impeach

impeach

verb

English Language Learners Definition of impeach

law
: to charge (a public official) with a crime done while in office
formal : to cause doubts about the truthfulness of (a witness, testimony, etc.)

impeach

verb
im·​peach | \ im-ˈpēch How to pronounce impeach (audio) \
impeached; impeaching

Kids Definition of impeach

: to charge a public official formally with misconduct in office

impeach

transitive verb
im·​peach | \ im-ˈpēch How to pronounce impeach (audio) \

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

History and Etymology for impeach

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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More from Merriam-Webster on impeach

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with impeach

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for impeach

Spanish Central: Translation of impeach

Nglish: Translation of impeach for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of impeach for Arabic Speakers

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