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 impugnable (audio) \ adjective
impugner \ im-​ˈpyü-​nər How to pronounce impugner (audio) \ 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 Some Republican senators have signed onto the idea of an extensive trial with the apparent aim of impugning the fairness of the House impeachment proceedings and attempting to tar the Bidens. oregonlive, "Senate impeachment trial is expected. How it will work is very uncertain," 15 Dec. 2019 As a recent experiment demonstrated, the best AI vision system might see a picture of your face and spit out a racial slur, a gender stereotype, or a term that impugns your good character. Will Knight, Wired, "AI Is Biased. Here's How Scientists Are Trying to Fix It," 19 Dec. 2019 Studies on driving safety impugn cannabis, at least for new users, but also demonstrate decreased safety for narcotic users, antibiotic users, benzodiazepines takers, insomniacs, and chronic pain sufferers as well. Dr. Jordan Tishler,, "Side effects of marijuana versus conventional medications," 4 Oct. 2019 Trump loyalists are instead mirroring the President's tactics by attacking the impeachment process itself, hitting out at Democrats, impugning the character of witnesses and resorting to conspiracy theories. CNN, "Can California's wildfires teach America a lesson? -- Meanwhile in America," 30 Oct. 2019 Trump for months has been calling for more scrutiny of that period and impugning corrupt motives to the business and government work of the Biden family, without putting forward evidence of wrongdoing. Calvin Woodward,, "What is going on with Trump, Ukraine and the whistleblower?," 21 Sep. 2019 To dismiss his contribution to modern photography is akin to impugning Picasso’s contribution to modern art. WSJ, "Photography Is Still Shaped By Ansel Adams’s Vision," 21 Dec. 2018 But children are hardly the only family members whose reputations can be impugned by oversharing., "Letters to the editor of the Boston Globe Magazine - The Boston Globe," 5 Oct. 2019 The timing is important, especially after rival California Sen. Kamala Harris impugned Biden's civil rights record during last month's Democratic presidential debates. Thomas Beaumont And Elena Schor, USA TODAY, "Biden's new criminal justice plan reverses portions of controversial 1994 crime bill," 28 June 2019

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

21 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Impugn.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 25 January 2020.

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More from Merriam-Webster on impugn

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for impugn

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with impugn

Spanish Central: Translation of impugn

Nglish: Translation of impugn for Spanish Speakers

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