impeach

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

impeach

noun

Definition of impeach (Entry 2 of 2)

obsolete

Keep scrolling for more

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

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

Will Nancy Pelosi be impeached as House Speaker? Don’t laugh. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "The Unimpeachable Pelosi," 12 Mar. 2019 The first was Andrew Johnson and the second was Bill Clinton (Richard Nixon resigned before he could be impeached). Jennifer Wright, Harper's BAZAAR, "What Will Actually Happen to Trump?," 19 Dec. 2018 An effort by a Democratic House of Delegates member to consider impeaching Mr. Fairfax stalled this month due to legal and political concerns. Scott Calvert, WSJ, "Virginia GOP Lawmakers to Ask Lt. Gov. Fairfax, Accusers to Testify," 22 Feb. 2019 President Richard Nixon would’ve almost certainly been impeached by the House and likely convicted by the Senate but for his resignation in 1974. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "How Not to Remove a President," 16 Apr. 2018 The 53-year-old Cincinnati resident hopes Democrats take control and impeach Trump. Chrissie Thompson, Cincinnati.com, "New poll: President Donald Trump isn't on the ballot in 2018. In Ohio, he might as well be," 13 June 2018 Hawley, who is running in the Republican primary for US Senate and will likely face incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill in November, has called for Greitens to resign or be impeached. Ella Nilsen, Vox, "Missouri attorney general Josh Hawley really wants Gov. Eric Greitens to resign.," 17 Apr. 2018 The last time West Virginia's Legislature engaged in anything remotely like this was 1989, when state Treasurer A. James Manchin was impeached by the House after the state lost $279 million invested in the bond market. Fox News, "4 impeached West Virginia justices to face trials," 12 Sep. 2018 If he’s impeached, barring an economic collapse, he won’t be convicted in a million years and his re-election, once unthinkable, now has to be seen as likely. Andrew Sullivan, Daily Intelligencer, "Is the World Done With Liberal Democracy?," 1 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.

See More

First Known Use of impeach

Verb

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

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

Keep scrolling for more

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on impeach

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

WORD OF THE DAY

an enemy or opponent

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name That Thing: Animal Edition

  • alt 5a023732e6f75
  • Name that animal:
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!