in·​no·​cent | \ˈi-nə-sənt \

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 \

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

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

The first season, Deutschland 83, came out way back in the summer of 2015 (what an innocent time!) and felt like a discovery, a brightly colored, zippily paced show about a fresh-faced East German spy infiltrating West Berlin in 1983. Taylor Antrim, Vogue, "Escapist Spy Thriller Deutschland 86 Breaks the Curse of the Second Season," 24 Oct. 2018 Women accused of witchcraft were also sent there, along with innocent individuals who defied or offended the Puritan leadership. Condé Nast Traveler, "8 Most Haunted Cities In America and Why You Should Visit," 18 Oct. 2018 Charges have already been brought against about 20 former Veracruz law enforcement officials who allegedly kidnapped and killed 15 innocent civilians. Fox News, "Mexico ex-governor pleads guilty to corruption, gets 9 years," 27 Sep. 2018 Seemingly innocent baby walkers are being called out as a serious safety hazard for American children. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "Baby Walkers Cause Thousands of ER Visits Every Year, Experts Warn," 26 Sep. 2018 Khan has pledged to support the U.S. in fighting terrorists but opposes U.S.-backed operations by the Pakistani military that have killed innocent civilians in its campaign to root out extremists. Abdul Salam, USA TODAY, "A cricket star is the front-runner to become Pakistan's next prime minister," 9 July 2018 Eight members of the elite Gun Trace Task Force were indicted and convicted of federal racketeering charges for robbing drug dealers and innocent civilians. Justin Fenton,, "Baltimore prosecutor Marilyn Mosby drops more cases, secures fewer convictions than predecessor," 30 May 2018 Testing can also produce false positives: Investigators on that case first questioned an innocent man who was an apparent match to DNA found at a crime scene. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "The perils of using DNA tests to reunite migrant children with their parents.," 22 June 2018 Many of those imprisoned were innocent of any wrongdoing, and the episode remains a significant blight on Russia’s unambiguously violent and blight-prone history. Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAY, "A Stalin-era Gulag survivor never saw her husband again. USA TODAY found him.," 14 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

On March 30, 2006, Kennard was declared innocent of the crimes that sent him to prison. Fox News, "Mississippi college giving posthumous degree to black vet," 5 May 2018 The government, which is supposed to protect life, is willfully taking part in the slaughter of innocents. Angie Leventis Lourgos,, "Woman who had tax-funded abortion says they 'help people in bad situations,' but critics decry public money for 'immoral act'," 25 June 2018 He was accused of using bombs and bullets in a crusade that took the lives of innocents but never did manage to snare that Cuban leader, who died at 90 in 2016. Frances Robles,, "Luis Posada Carriles, waged quest to oust Castro, dies at 90," 25 May 2018 His arrest allowed other groups to move into the drug trade, leading to a battle for territory and the killings of both criminals and innocents throughout the country. Christal Hayes, USA TODAY, "Thousands of immigrants pass through the southern border. Why are they fleeing their home countries?," 25 June 2018 Basquiat became famous in the early 1980s, when the idea that artists were supposed to be commercial innocents fell apart for good. Stephen Metcalf, The Atlantic, "Jean-Michel Basquiat Is Still an Enigma," 24 June 2018 Starting that with the cessation of U.S.-South Korea war games—that is, practicing the mass murder of innocents—is a good way to get the ball rolling. Beatrice Fihn, Time, "Ending War Games With South Korea Isn't a 'Stunning Concession.' It's the Best Thing to Come Out of the Summit So Far," 13 June 2018 By the time the fighting had subsided, thousands of innocents had lost their lives — including five American nuns, who Taylor’s soldiers mistakenly believed to be cooperating with the forces arrayed against them. Jeremy Roebuck,, "Another Liberian in Delco stands trial for alleged role in brutal civil war," 11 June 2018 He was accused of using bombs and bullets in a crusade that took the lives of innocents but never did manage to snare that Cuban leader, who died at 90 in 2016. Frances Robles,, "Luis Posada Carriles, waged quest to oust Castro, dies at 90," 25 May 2018

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

16 Nov 2018

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


in·​no·​cent | \ˈi-nə-sənt \

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 \

Medical Definition of innocent 

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


in·​no·​cent | \ˈi-nə-sənt \

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).


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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