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 investigation could have impacted the case because the defense could have used it to impeach the officers’ credibility if they were called to testify had Cha taken his case to trial. Sarah Horner, Twin Cities, "Tou Cha pleads guilty to lesser charge in St. Paul assault case that resulted in firing of 5 officers," 28 Aug. 2019 Far from marking a finish to anything, the seemingly lopsided vote demonstrated that the movement to impeach Trump is steadily gaining support in the Democratic caucus. John Cassidy, The New Yorker, "The Movement to Impeach Donald Trump Has Only Just Begun," 18 July 2019 But there is also another line of reasoning that argues that screwing up some gumption and acting to impeach is, in fact, the only way Trump can be defeated in 2020. Lynn Yaeger, Vogue, "The Week in Washington: “It’s a Dirty, Filthy, Disgusting Word!”," 2 June 2019 Elizabeth Holtzman, who as a freshman member of Congress sat on the House Judiciary Committee that voted to impeach Nixon, reminds us in The Case for Impeaching Trump that Baker’s question was not meant to indict the president but to exonerate him. Linda Greenhouse, The New York Review of Books, "The Impeachment Question," 30 May 2019 South Korea’s first female president was impeached by lawmakers in December 2016 and officially removed from office in March 2017 over the scandal that triggered months of street rallies involving millions of people. Washington Post, "S. Korean court sends Park, Samsung heir cases to new trials," 29 Aug. 2019 The data point -- with 59% of those surveyed responding that Trump should not be impeached and compelled to leave office -- comes as Trump’s approval rating remains at 40% in the same poll. Savannah Behrmann, USA TODAY, "Poll: Majority of Americans don't want Trump to be impeached and removed from office," 22 Aug. 2019 According to the Monmouth poll released Thursday, 35% of Americans support impeaching Mr. Trump and removing him from office, while 59% of Americans oppose that course of action. Grace Segers, CBS News, "Majority of Americans don't want Trump to be impeached, new poll finds," 22 Aug. 2019 Ramos sees only three possibilities could bring an end the chaos: the governor resigns, he's impeached or arrested by a federal agency. Nicole Chavez, CNN, "'Something needs to change': Tensions keep rising in Puerto Rico, and more protests are coming," 18 July 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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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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