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

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

That being the case, Volkswagen is almost certainly innocent of disrupting those farmers’ livelihoods, but not with the cannons. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "Farmers Accuse Volkswagen of Causing a Drought With Its Weather Machines," 23 Aug. 2018 She's gone through several different fashion phases, from innocent, girl next door to smoldering stage presence to mature mother of two. Jessica Booth, Redbook, "See Britney Spears' Hottest and Most Cringeworthy Looks of 2018," 20 Nov. 2018 Why were other things more important than this, the care of innocent children? Trevor Marshallsea, Fox News, "PM formally apologizes to Australian child sex abuse victims," 22 Oct. 2018 Fox News harps on the violence of groups like Antifa, yet conveniently fails to mention the extreme violence committed by the far right—violence that has led to the killings of innocent people. Jennifer Wright, Harper's BAZAAR, "We're Living in a Time of Cruel Laughing Men," 17 Oct. 2018 That unexpected text from an ex is not so innocent. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "What October's Aries Horoscope Means for You," 30 Sep. 2018 The only way to protect innocent people from bad guys with guns is to have good guys with guns. The Voorhes, Glamour, "I'm a Woman in a Battleground State. Here's What Politicians Don't Understand About Me.," 21 Aug. 2018 President Trump ought to insist the IRS sticks to its narrow fix and doesn’t let Democratic bad faith on taxes become a weapon to hurt tens of thousands of innocent American children. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Blue State ‘Charity’," 17 Aug. 2018 Carden thinks of Good Janet as almost childlike—innocent and driven by wanting to do good and be useful. Laura Bradley, HWD, "How The Good Place Built Janet, TV’s Most Scene-Stealing Not-a-Robot," 4 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 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

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

28 Dec 2018

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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).


a complex dispute or argument

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