im·​pugn | \ im-ˈpyün How to pronounce impugn (audio) \
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

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Other Words from impugn

impugnable \ im-​ˈpyü-​nə-​bəl How to pronounce impugn (audio) \ adjective
impugner \ im-​ˈpyü-​nər How to pronounce impugn (audio) \ noun

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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 These types of claims are not reliable or fair indicators of an officer’s conduct, and would not be used to impugn any other person. Taylor Avery, USA TODAY, 31 July 2021 Reproductive rights forms the legal-focused arm of the reproductive justice movement and focuses on challenging laws and policies that impugn someone’s human right to choose whether, when, and how to have a family. Lisa Deaderick, San Diego Union-Tribune, 4 July 2021 Contemporary translators are often quick to impugn the theologies that animate earlier translations, but no translator is free of ideology, for the act of translation itself entails certain claims about the nature of sacred literature. Casey Cep, The New Yorker, 28 Apr. 2021 How outrageously hypocritical and ignorantly arrogant of Minneapolis City Council Member Jeremiah Ellison to impugn the character and professionalism of Police Chief Medaria Arradondo. Star Tribune, 12 Nov. 2020 As a growing body of consistent evidence can be hard to explain away, one fallback is to impugn the source. Sean B. Carroll, Scientific American, 8 Nov. 2020 Hannity was joined in his efforts to impugn the integrity of the electoral system by his colleagues Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham, two hosts who also have a history of advancing dishonest arguments to support Trump. Oliver Darcy, CNN, 5 Nov. 2020 Where, on the Schorr-Bitburg scale, does this attempt to impugn Cawthorn land? Jack Butler, National Review, 14 Aug. 2020 But President Donald Trump and others repeatedly impugn the integrity of the mail-in voting system. Dave Boucher, Detroit Free Press, 3 Aug. 2020

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.

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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

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

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Last Updated

3 Aug 2021

Cite this Entry

“Impugn.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Sep. 2021.

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Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for impugn

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