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

Decrying polarization has become a way of impugning adversaries. Robert B. Talisse, The Denver Post, "Guest Commentary: Political polarization is about feelings, not facts, and animosity is growing," 9 Aug. 2019 Those include various anatomical references, impugning each other's manhood literally as well as figuratively. Brian Lowry, CNN, "'Hobbs & Shaw' shows how buddy action movies won't grow up," 2 Aug. 2019 Chinese diplomats and trade negotiators are trying to appeal to internationalist sentiments for a free-trading world order, and impugning the honor of America while doing so. Nicholas Frankovich, National Review, "The Unmade Case against China," 16 July 2019 House Speaker Sara Gideon warned Hanington against impugning lawmakers and that set in motion the exchange., "Lawmaker apologizes for yelling at Maine speaker, calling her a ‘weasel’," 20 June 2019 Russia attempted to undermine the fundamentals of our democracy, impugn the reliability of the 2016 election, and sow the seeds of discord among Americans. Brooke Singman, Fox News, "Trump faces bipartisan criticism over press conference with Putin," 16 July 2018 The Indiana diocese says the findings show why the credibility of accusations needs to be determined before someone's reputation is impugned. Fox News, "Indiana bishop cleared of Pennsylvania misconduct allegation," 13 Sep. 2018 The Coolidge administration and its congressional allies had actively undermined the Teapot Dome investigations, impugning the character of Senate investigators, harassing their family members and relentlessly attacking their motives. Andrew Coan, WSJ, "Why Robert Mueller’s Predecessors Usually Didn’t Prevail," 25 Jan. 2019 Then there was the bloodless Senator from Connecticut, the guy repeatedly lied about serving in Vietnam, trying his best to impugn another man's integrity. Fox News, "Brit Hume on fallout from Kavanaugh hearing; Alan Dershowitz on Rachel Mitchell's performance," 28 Sep. 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.

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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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Statistics for impugn

Last Updated

30 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for impugn

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on impugn

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with impugn

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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).


to fake an opponent out of position

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