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

Trials with the possibility of capital punishment are split into a guilty-or-innocent phase and, if a conviction is reached, a penalty phase. Eric Levenson, CNN, "Prosecutors say Brendt Christensen killed a Chinese college student. His lawyer agreed.," 12 June 2019 No one is innocent in this situation, but no one is guilty, either. Dieter Kurtenbach, The Mercury News, "Kurtenbach: The unfair, unsavory truth of Kevin Durant’s injury," 11 June 2019 Even those who reluctantly accept that Moro, Dallagnol, and others may have acted improperly will almost certainly reject the notion that Lula is innocent, despite the serious problems in the way his case was investigated and prosecuted. Andre Pagliarini, The New Republic, "The Conspiracy to Discredit Brazil’s Left," 10 June 2019 But generally, a person is presumed innocent, has the right to have an attorney present and is freed within 72 hours if there is no charge. Washington Post, "Japan’s bare detention center holds many without convictions," 10 June 2019 Úrsula is the wise Buendía family matriarch, Remedios an innocent who wanders around naked. Maria L. La Ganga,, "What's L.A. reading? Our habits are as diverse as the city itself," 6 June 2019 There is no innocent reason for a grown man to possess nude photos of young girls. Amy Dickinson, Detroit Free Press, "Couple saw something, but won’t say something," 5 June 2019 Get in an innocent dig The Queen, while prim, is not above making the occasional joke. Jackie Bischof, Quartz, "How to write a speech like a queen," 5 June 2019 There's nothing more frustrating than getting overly excited about the first really nice day, throwing on a pair of innocent-looking sandals, and going outside... only to have your outing cut short by your incredibly uncomfortable footwear. Glamour, "The 9 Best Walking Sandals According to Glamour Editors," 17 May 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

HBO Of all the disappointing character outcomes in Game of Thrones, Grey Worm's complicity with Daenerys' slaughter of innocents has to be near the top of the list. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "13 'Game of Thrones' Questions We Still Have After the Finale," 20 May 2019 And would said bear go after the thoughtless photographer or the four innocents? WSJ, "Readers Support the Right to Disarm Bears," 2 Aug. 2018 Slaughtering journalists and innocents is a hallmark of Third World countries and endangered, struggling democracies. Fabiola Santiago, miamiherald, "The real fireworks this 4th of July? National anxiety. What’s happening to our country?," 4 July 2018 Both Gren and Dil are Grendel, the monster who Beowulf must fight and kill — and, in The Mere Wife, both of them are innocents. Constance Grady, Vox, "The Mere Wife is an eerie, playful reimagining of Beowulf for the suburbs," 8 Aug. 2018 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

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

15 Jun 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).


a tendency to relapse

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