in·​no·​cent | \ ˈi-nə-sənt How to pronounce innocent (audio) \

Definition of innocent

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : free from legal guilt or fault also : lawful a wholly innocent transaction
b : free from guilt or sin especially through lack of knowledge of evil : blameless an innocent child
c : harmless in effect or intention … searching for a hidden motive in even the most innocent conversation.— Leonard Wibberley also : candid gave me an innocent gaze
2a : lacking or reflecting a lack of sophistication, guile, or self-consciousness : artless, ingenuous
b : ignorant … almost entirely innocent of Latin.— C. L. Wrenn also : unaware … perfectly innocent of the confusion he had created … — B. R. Haydon
3 : lacking or deprived of something … her face innocent of cosmetics …— Marcia Davenport


plural innocents

Definition of innocent (Entry 2 of 3)

: a person who is innocent: such as
a : a person free from sin : a young child the biblical massacre/slaughter of the innocents
b : a naïve, inexperienced, or unsophisticated person a political innocent … during a great land boom in which immense fortunes were made and innocents like himself fleeced.— Arthur Miller
c : a blameless person : a person who does not deserve to be harmed The war caused the death of thousands of innocents.


biographical name
In·​no·​cent | \ ˈi-nə-sənt How to pronounce Innocent (audio) \

Definition of Innocent (Entry 3 of 3)

name of 13 popes: especially II died 1143 (pope 1130–43); III 1160(or 1161)–1216 (pope 1198–1216); IV died 1254 (pope 1243–54); XI 1611–1689 (pope 1676–89)

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Other Words from innocent


innocently adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for innocent

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Noun

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Examples of innocent in a Sentence

Adjective He says that he is innocent of the crime. She was found innocent of all charges. A person accused of a crime is considered innocent until proven guilty. Someone told your secret, but it wasn't me. I'm innocent.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective However, in an interview with ProPublica in late September, Figueroa, speaking through an interpreter, said that his son was innocent, and that Rodriguez was the killer. Joe Sexton, ProPublica, "Nelson Cruz’s family was so sure Judge ShawnDya Simpson would free him, they brought a change of clothes to his hearing. Then everything took an unexpected turn. Can justice ever be sorted out?," 12 Oct. 2020 Minnesota has been awarded a federal grant to review legal cases for people believed to be innocent. Zoë Jackson, Star Tribune, "Minnesota awarded grant to review cases for those believed innocent," 9 Oct. 2020 Protests have sprung up nationwide and across Connecticut to decry the lack of charges in the death of the innocent Black woman, shot during a no-knock warrant, at the wrong apartment, that began when Taylor was asleep in her bed. Susan Dunne,, "‘Mourning the American legacy of disregard for Black lives’: Black women in Connecticut exhausted by Breonna Taylor decision," 5 Oct. 2020 Jim Axelrod: The job of the defense lawyer is not to convince the jury that Todd is innocent, the job is to create reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury. Jim Axelrod, CBS News, "A woman is impaled by a corn rake – but do her fatal injuries add up to murder?," 26 Sep. 2020 Police officers on the hunt for a young black man, callously gunned down an innocent young black woman after supposedly crashing into an apartment without warning. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, "A Just Decision Not to File Homicide Charges in the Tragic Breonna Taylor Case," 24 Sep. 2020 The announcement drew criticism from Taylor’s family, their attorney, and several celebrities and activists, who said that Cameron and the jury had disregarded the life of an innocent Black woman. Washington Post, "Kentucky grand jury declines to file homicide charges in death of Breonna Taylor," 24 Sep. 2020 Defense attorney Loreto maintains that his client, Vadell, is innocent of the charges and should be freed to return home to his family in the United States. Scott Smith, Star Tribune, "American oil execs, held 2 years, go to trial in Venezuela," 7 Aug. 2020 Aurora police officers failed to double check information from a license plate scanner before detaining an innocent woman and four children at gunpoint, forcing the girls to lie facedown on the pavement for minutes, the city’s police chief said. Sam Tabachnik, The Denver Post, "“It was done wrong”: Aurora police chief explains mistakes that led to officers handcuffing children," 4 Aug. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun With his friends surrounded and needing a distraction, Strand found one in Sanjay, stabbing the innocent in the leg and pushing him toward the zombies as an offering of fresh meat. Dalton Ross,, "Fear the Walking Dead showrunners explain Strand's shocking move," 19 Oct. 2020 And that raises the question of whether the attack against such innocents might prove to be a tipping point that galvanizes Afghans seeking a way out of war. Scott Peterson, The Christian Science Monitor, "Why this hospital attack is pushing Afghans toward ‘tipping point’," 15 May 2020 Others wrestle with how God could allow innocents to suffer. Irving Greenberg, WSJ, "The Coronavirus Isn’t God’s Will," 28 May 2020 Siddiqi said the killing of innocents is completely forbidden under Islam, with the preservation of human life being of the utmost importance. Lorraine Longhi, azcentral, "Scottsdale Community College apologizes after 'inappropriate' questions about Islam surface on quiz," 9 May 2020 Paxton Winters' Pacified, an intimate snapshot of one high-risk shantytown community seen through the wide-open eyes of a 13-year-old girl, reverses that push by humanizing its subjects — from the drug lords to the innocents caught in their web. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Pacified' ('Pacificado'): Film Review | Tribeca 2020," 25 Apr. 2020 Too many innocents too often caught in the line of deadly fire. Roy S. Johnson |, al, "Johnson: After public sparring, perhaps Woodfin and Scales will finally add much-needed police presence in east Birmingham," 11 Feb. 2020 An Iranian general dies in U.S. attack, and innocents suffer. Madison Dibble, Washington Examiner, "AP changes headline that 'blames Trump' for Iran shooting down jet," 10 Jan. 2020 The fresh-looking, clipboard-clutching innocents interviewing museum visitors don’t realize what a nefarious mission they’ve been enlisted to advance. Brian T. Allen, National Review, "Art Bridges’ Art Populism," 14 Sep. 2019

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


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


14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for innocent


Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin innocent-, innocens, from in- + nocent-, nocens wicked, from present participle of nocēre to harm — more at noxious

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Time Traveler for innocent

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for innocent

Last Updated

22 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Innocent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for innocent


How to pronounce Innocent (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of innocent

: not guilty of a crime or other wrong act
: not deserving to be harmed
: lacking experience with the world and the bad things that happen in life


in·​no·​cent | \ ˈi-nə-sənt How to pronounce innocent (audio) \

Kids Definition of innocent

1 : free from sin : pure She's as innocent as a baby.
2 : free from guilt or blame He is innocent of the charges.
3 : free from evil influence or effect : harmless innocent fun

Other Words from innocent

innocently adverb


in·​no·​cent | \ ˈin-ə-sənt How to pronounce innocent (audio) \

Medical Definition of innocent

: lacking capacity to injure : benign an innocent tumor innocent heart murmurs

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in·​no·​cent | \ ˈi-nə-sənt How to pronounce innocent (audio) \

Legal Definition of innocent

: characterized by innocence

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