in·​no·​cence | \ˈi-nə-sən(t)s \

Definition of innocence 

1a : freedom from guilt or sin through being unacquainted with evil : blamelessness

b : chastity

c : freedom from legal guilt of a particular crime or offense

d(1) : freedom from guile or cunning : simplicity

(2) : lack of worldly experience or sophistication

e : lack of knowledge : ignorance written in entire innocence of the Italian language— E. R. Bentley

2 : one that is innocent

3 : bluet

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Examples of innocence in a Sentence

He vows that he will prove his innocence in court. the trusting innocence of childhood The age of innocence was over.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Israel’s tour passes the high school where Donna and Laura spent their last fleeting moments of innocence. Tantri Wija, The Seattle Times, "It’s happening again: Inside Western Washington’s ‘Twin Peaks’ tourism," 20 Nov. 2018 Shifting the presumption of innocence to the presumption of guilt is very dangerous for black men. P.r. Lockhart, Vox, "A radio ad invoked lynchings to court black voters. It did not go over well.," 19 Oct. 2018 So, Susan Collins and this whole notion of presumption of innocence. Eric Johnson, Recode, "When big companies are hacked, should they have to disclose it immediately?," 13 Oct. 2018 This movie is a commentary on girl-on-girl hatred, sexuality, the death of innocence, and also politics in the way the town responds to the tragedies [of the bloody deaths of several young men]. Constance Grady, Vox, "How Jennifer’s Body went from a flop in 2009 to a feminist cult classic today," 31 Oct. 2018 There is also no recourse for prisoners who can't prove their innocence because the evidence is gone. Ashley Luthern, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "A killer left DNA evidence behind. But Milwaukee police destroyed it.," 22 June 2018 Childhood is a time of innocence, a time to teach discipline and values. Karina Bland, azcentral, "Bland: Old letter from John McCain shows how little has changed in 20 years of gun debate," 5 June 2018 Set largely in England, these ten elegiac tales depict loss of innocence, loss of memory, loss of love and, acutely, loss of life. The Economist, "William Trevor’s final collection of stories," 17 May 2018 Intellectual advocates of the job guarantee believe their proposal serves a larger purpose of restoring the Democratic Party to its prelapsarian state of working-class innocence, before neoliberals took control. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "Democrats Are Rushing Into a Job Guarantee. It Could Be a Huge Mistake.," 25 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'innocence.' 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 innocence

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Statistics for innocence

Last Updated

28 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for innocence

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

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More Definitions for innocence



English Language Learners Definition of innocence

: the state of being not guilty of a crime or other wrong act

: lack of experience with the world and with the bad things that happen in life

: lack of knowledge about something


in·​no·​cence | \ˈi-nə-səns \

Kids Definition of innocence

: the quality or state of being free from sin or guilt The evidence proved his innocence.


in·​no·​cence | \ˈi-nə-səns \

Legal Definition of innocence 

: freedom from fault or guilt under the law: as

a : the state of not being guilty of a particular crime or offense — compare guilt

b : the state of not being guilty of an act that constitutes a ground for divorce

c : ignorance on the part of a party to a transaction of facts that would lead a person of ordinary prudence to make inquiries

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Comments on innocence

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to enclose within walls

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