innocent

1 of 2

adjective

in·​no·​cent ˈi-nə-sənt How to pronounce innocent (audio)
1
a
: 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
2
a
: 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
innocently adverb

innocent

2 of 2

noun

plural innocents
: 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.

Example Sentences

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.
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
Presley reportedly thought Jackson was innocent and urged him to settle the allegations outside of court and to go to rehab for his drug addiction. Lester Fabian Brathwaite, EW.com, 13 Jan. 2023 Police believe Takeoff was an innocent bystander to an argument that took place outside a bowling alley that led to the shooting. Alaa Elassar, CNN, 5 Jan. 2023 Police believe the 14-year-old fatal victim was an innocent bystander. Kc Baker, Peoplemag, 14 Dec. 2022 Takeoff an 'innocent bystander' before murder, two men arrested, police say Takeoff, 28, was shot in the head and back as more than 30 people were leaving a private party at the bowling alley. Juan A. Lozano, USA TODAY, 6 Dec. 2022 Authorities confirmed that the teen was an innocent bystander and he is expected to survive. Jon Haworth, ABC News, 8 Nov. 2022 By many accounts, Takeoff was an innocent bystander who lost his life in a random instance of violence after a quarrel at a party in Houston early Tuesday morning. Andre Gee, Rolling Stone, 3 Nov. 2022 The gunfire erupted following a dispute between two women in the middle of Third Avenue North, and ended with Sills, a mother and innocent bystander, dead from a gunshot wound to the head. Carol Robinson | Crobinson@al.com, al, 19 Oct. 2022 Some played the victim, some played the innocent bystander, and some played the villain. Stacey Grant, Seventeen, 13 Oct. 2022
Noun
At twelve, visitations commence from the Kid, a far cry from the feckless, murderous innocent of Blood Meridian. Joy Williams, Harper’s Magazine , 14 Dec. 2022 The fraudsters’ aim is for the innocent on the other end of the line or text to be sufficiently frightened that valuable financial information is shared. Dallas News, 12 July 2022 On the other hand, the intimate view of the innocent's life makes the decision-making even more agonizing for everyone involved -- and especially for Watts, the man with the finger on the trigger that launches the Hellfire missiles. Jeremy Hsu, Discover Magazine, 26 Feb. 2016 He was then assigned to a building in Paris where people who had been arrested by French resistance fighters were being held, to sort out the innocent from those who required investigation. Richard Sandomir, New York Times, 17 Sep. 2022 An audience, the playwright seems to be saying, must witness the torture that this young innocent experienced. Peter Marks, Washington Post, 14 Oct. 2022 Maybe their shrewd veterans can be shaken up by an untested innocent. Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times, 27 May 2022 White said investigators have yet to determine if the woman was the intended target of Tuesday's violence or an innocent who was cut down in the crossfire. Chris Harris, PEOPLE.com, 29 June 2022 And like so many people, I was horrified by what happened in Texas, by what happened in Buffalo, by what’s been happening, quite frankly, all over our country, in terms of gun violence against the innocent. Liam Hess, Vogue, 16 June 2022 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

Adjective

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

First Known Use

Adjective

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

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near innocent

Cite this Entry

“Innocent.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/innocent. Accessed 28 Jan. 2023.

Kids Definition

innocent

adjective
in·​no·​cent ˈin-ə-sənt How to pronounce innocent (audio)
1
: free from sin : pure
2
: free from guilt or blame : guiltless
innocent of the crime
3
: free from harmful influence or effect : harmless
innocent fun
4
innocent noun
innocently adverb

Medical Definition

innocent

adjective
in·​no·​cent ˈin-ə-sənt How to pronounce innocent (audio)
: lacking capacity to injure : benign
an innocent tumor
innocent heart murmurs

Legal Definition

innocent

adjective
in·​no·​cent ˈi-nə-sənt How to pronounce innocent (audio)
: characterized by innocence

Biographical Definition

Innocent

biographical name

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

More from Merriam-Webster on innocent

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