impugn

verb
im·pugn | \im-ˈpyün \
impugned; impugning; impugns

Definition of impugn 

transitive verb

1 : to assail by words or arguments : oppose or attack as false or lacking integrity impugned the defendant's character

2 obsolete

a : assail

b : resist

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from impugn

impugnable \im-ˈpyü-nə-bəl \ adjective
impugner \im-ˈpyü-nər \ noun

Did You Know?

When you impugn, you hazard repugnant pugnacity. More simply put, you risk insulting someone to the point where he or she wants to sock you. The belligerent implications of "impugn" are to be expected in a word that derives from the Latin verb pugnare, which means "to fight." In its earliest known English uses in the 1300s, "impugn" could refer to a physical attack (as in, "the troops impugned the city") as well as to figurative assaults involving verbal contradiction or dispute. Over time, though, the sense of physical battling has become obsolete and the "calling into question" sense has predominated. As you might expect, "pugnare" also gave English other fighting words, including "repugnant" and "pugnacity."

Examples of impugn in a Sentence

He impugned his rival's character. Her motives have been scrutinized and impugned.

Recent Examples on the Web

Nothing in the IG’s report impugns the integrity of our workforce as a whole, or the FBI as an institution. James Freeman, WSJ, "FBI Bias Training," 19 June 2018 This destruction of evidence, this obstruction of justice, impugned Colangelo more than anything else that came to light. Marcus Hayes, Philly.com, "Could Bryan Colangelo have saved his job if he handled Twittergate differently, throwing his wife under the bus? | Marcus Hayes," 9 June 2018 Any male cyclist who’s been on the receiving end of harassment knows it’s always about impugning your masculinity. Eben Weiss, Outside Online, "No, Cycling Isn't Elitist," 5 July 2018 Material posted on Sarawak Bersatu, and on a related Twitter feed, impugned the motives and the reporting practices of Rewcastle Brown and called her an agent of British socialism. Ed Caesar, The New Yorker, "The Reputation-Laundering Firm That Ruined Its Own Reputation," 25 May 2018 Prominent Washington journalists, meanwhile, took pains to defend Ms. Sanders — earning their own opprobrium from some liberals who asked why reporters were sticking up for an administration that routinely impugns their work. New York Times, "Michelle Wolf Sets Off a Furor at White House Correspondents’ Dinner," 29 Apr. 2018 But with a little muddying of the waters, McCabe's firing could be used to further impugn the integrity of the special counsel's work. Callum Borchers, Washington Post, "Five reasons Trump would have wanted Andrew McCabe fired," 16 Mar. 2018 Instead, the honor and reputation of a national treasure has been impugned by not according her the same amount of concern given the program’s principals — Davis and Crawford — and that makes her portrayal all the more disheartening and offensive. Mike Kaplan, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Feud,' Olivia de Havilland and the "Bitch" vs. "Dragon Lady" Debate (Guest Column)," 5 May 2018 Prominent Washington journalists, meanwhile, took pains to defend Sanders — earning their own opprobrium from some liberals who asked why reporters were sticking up for an administration that routinely impugns their work. Michael M. Grynbaum, BostonGlobe.com, "Comic routine sets off a furor at an annual Washington dinner," 1 May 2018

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for impugn

Middle English, from Anglo-French empugner, from Latin inpugnare, from in- + pugnare to fight — more at pungent

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about impugn

Listen to Our Podcast about impugn

Statistics for impugn

Last Updated

19 Aug 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for impugn

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on impugn

See words that rhyme with impugn

Spanish Central: Translation of impugn

Nglish: Translation of impugn for Spanish Speakers

Comments on impugn

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

WORD OF THE DAY

a generally accepted meaning of a word

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble-tiles-that-read-scrabble-quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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!