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

Definition of innocent

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : free from guilt or sin especially through lack of knowledge of evil : blameless an innocent child
b : 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
c : free from legal guilt or fault also : lawful a wholly innocent transaction
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

impeccable, pure, sinless, white

Synonyms: Noun

angel, dove, lamb, sheep

Antonyms: Adjective

impure, peccant, sinful, sinning

Antonyms: Noun


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Examples of innocent in a Sentence


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

Swatting, a cybercrime, is intended to get innocent people arrested or injured by the police., "North College Hill gamer sentenced to 15 months prison in ‘swatting’ case," 15 Sep. 2019 Last month, a gunman in El Paso, Texas, used a semiautomatic assault rifle with a high-capacity magazine to kill 22 innocent people inside a Walmart store. Diana Degette, The Denver Post, "DeGette: A federal ban of high-capacity magazines will save lives even as threat of gun violence grows," 10 Sep. 2019 But if a police officer could draw the shooter's fire or force them to retreat from the area away from innocent people, then that officer has done their job, Mena said. Perry Vandell, azcentral, "'Knowledge is preparedness': Phoenix police hold active shooter drill at Herberger Theater," 27 Aug. 2019 But what really bothers me is that innocent people are being endangered and abused based on what amounts to little more than overly simplistic and alarmist fiction. Sarah Kurchak, Vox, "Fake autism treatments show the lengths parents will go to “cure” their kids," 13 Aug. 2019 All were utilized in the August 4 shooting in Dayton, Ohio, that ended the lives of nine innocent people out for a fun evening on the town. Chris Harris,, "Friend of Dayton Gunman Charged With Buying Armor, Weapons Used in Attack That Killed 9," 12 Aug. 2019 Wilson’s mother, Sonya Smith, said her daughter is innocent at Monday afternoon’s arraignment hearing, the McAlester News-Capital reported. Katie Shepherd, Washington Post, "A teen allegedly wanted to ‘shoot 400 people for fun.’ Cops found an AK-47 in her bedroom.," 17 Sep. 2019 One idea is to fashion an agreement along the lines of the Geneva Conventions, which with their predecessors have sought to protect innocent lives in military conflict for more than a century. Scott Shackelford, The Conversation, "In a world of cyber threats, the push for cyber peace is growing," 3 Sep. 2019 An innocent man walking down the street deserves to be beaten up because someone from his community in another state hurt someone from mine. Roshan Radhakrishnan, Quartz India, "If you’ve watched “Black-ish,” you know there’ll never be an Indian “Dalit-ish” or “Muslim-ish”," 26 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

There are no goodies and baddies, just violent, greedy, immoral men and innocents caught in the crossfire. J.b., The Economist, "Why “The Wild Bunch” ranks among the most influential Westerns," 18 June 2019 Two, the innocents who are massacred, in the cartels’ quest for power, will not take death lying down. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "The Haunted Street Children of “Tigers Are Not Afraid”," 23 Aug. 2019 Years ago, before Trump was elected president, there were white boys with guns too, slaughtering innocents. John Kass, Twin Cities, "John Kass: Weaponizing the dead of El Paso and Dayton," 9 Aug. 2019 America will continue to bury its innocents massacred in bulk until the federal government and the fifty states address gun violence as a crisis. Phillip Morris,, "Dayton massacre has properly focused Gov. DeWine on gun violence: Phillip Morris," 7 Aug. 2019 From Ted Bundy to Jack the Ripper, new DNA technology is solving murder mysteries, finding serial killers, and exonerating innocents. John Bacon, USA TODAY, "DNA leads to cold case arrest: Ex-law enforcement officer charged in 'horrific' sexual assaults," 14 May 2019 As helpless as all those innocents murdered by your violent citizens who suck up to the NRA. Dp Opinion, The Denver Post, "Letters: Defending culling of geese; Culling angers Canadian; If the shoe fits…; Give that team a raise (7/10/19)," 10 July 2019 Most adults would probably prefer to let children be innocents for as long as possible rather than broach difficult topics, like borders, walls, and the ruling of kingdoms and countries. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "How to talk to small kids about big issues like border walls," 7 July 2019 The show’s drama pivots upon the question of whether Mr. Pickles is a Mr. Rogers-style innocent, or a naif out of step with the modern world. Akiva Gottlieb,, "With 'Kidding,' Jim Carrey delves into the many facets of identity," 14 June 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 1a


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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Statistics for innocent

Last Updated

19 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for innocent

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

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More Definitions for innocent



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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Comments on innocent

What made you want to look up innocent? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


involving a confidence or trust

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