impugn

verb

im·​pugn im-ˈpyün How to pronounce impugn (audio)
impugned; impugning; impugns

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
impugnable adjective
impugner noun

Did you know?

When you impugn, you hazard repugnant pugnacity. More simply put, you risk insulting someone so greatly that they may punch you in response. 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 She was later called out for impugning her Democratic colleagues and had to rephrase her criticism. Mary Jo Pitzl, The Arizona Republic, 10 Apr. 2024 Follow Election 2024 Democrats charged that the age and memory details in Hur’s report served only to impugn the reputation of a man prosecutors ultimately decided not to charge. Devlin Barrett, Washington Post, 12 Mar. 2024 Democrats charged that the age and memory details in Hur’s report served only to impugn the reputation of a man prosecutors ultimately decided not to charge. Devlin Barrett, Washington Post, 12 Mar. 2024 Campaigns that are trailing in the polls often impugn them, of course, but Biden aides cite reasons for their skepticism. Evan Osnos, The New Yorker, 4 Mar. 2024 This isn’t an attempt to ban speech, or impugn anyone’s First Amendment rights. The Arizona Republic, 23 Feb. 2024 How dare this dumb-dumb try to impugn the Bachelorette's character. Kristen Baldwin, EW.com, 4 July 2023 As such, Black women see their credentials relentlessly attacked, their characters impugned, their lives scoured. Charles Blow, The Mercury News, 9 Jan. 2024 This isn’t an attempt to ban speech, or impugn anyone’s First Amendment rights. Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic, 3 Jan. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'impugn.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

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Dictionary Entries Near impugn

Cite this Entry

“Impugn.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/impugn. Accessed 25 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

impugn

verb
im·​pugn im-ˈpyün How to pronounce impugn (audio)
: to attack as false or not to be trusted
impugn the honesty of an opponent

More from Merriam-Webster on impugn

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