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

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 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, "Readers Write: Election results, polarization, Minneapolis police, the Catholic Church," 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, "The Denialist Playbook," 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, "Fox News hosts sow distrust in legitimacy of election," 5 Nov. 2020 Where, on the Schorr-Bitburg scale, does this attempt to impugn Cawthorn land? Jack Butler, National Review, "Madison Cawthorn Is Not a Nazi," 14 Aug. 2020 But President Donald Trump and others repeatedly impugn the integrity of the mail-in voting system. Dave Boucher, Detroit Free Press, "Here's how Michigan ensures your absentee ballot is secure," 3 Aug. 2020 Those numbers reflect the measures Bennett impugns as, pardon the term, overkill. Jonah Goldberg, National Review, "Cowardice Isn’t Driving the American Response to COVID-19," 17 Apr. 2020 Belichick and the Patriots got blasted in the court of public opinion and labeled deceitful scofflaws who impugned the integrity of the game and offended the sporting sensibilities of America. Globe Staff,, "Punishment for Astros shows MLB’s sign-stealing days are over — and the Red Sox are next," 13 Jan. 2020 Reliance on foreign and international law to achieve progressive ends would have to resort precisely to the sort of selective use of sources that critics of originalism impugn conservative judges for employing in domestic law. Dan Mclaughlin, National Review, "‘Common-Good Constitutionalism’ Is No Alternative to Originalism," 2 Apr. 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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Cite this Entry

“Impugn.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jan. 2021.

More from Merriam-Webster on impugn

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for impugn

Nglish: Translation of impugn for Spanish Speakers

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