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

Definition of innocent

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : 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
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)

Other Words from innocent


innocently adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for innocent

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Noun

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Examples of innocent in a Sentence

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective In May, Peters Baker announced that a review of the case led her to believe that Strickland was innocent. Heather Hollingsworth And Margaret Stafford, USA TODAY, 24 Nov. 2021 At one point while on the stand, Halim even confessed to his involvement and insisted that Aziz and Islam were innocent. Althea Legaspi, Rolling Stone, 23 Nov. 2021 In May, Peters Baker announced that a review of the case led her to believe that Strickland was innocent. NBC News, 23 Nov. 2021 An independent investigation later determined the men were innocent and they were granted pardons by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the state's clemency board in 2019. Zoe Christen Jones, CBS News, 22 Nov. 2021 Twenty years later, Debra Jackson says her son was innocent. Mike Cason |, al, 21 Nov. 2021 One of the most significant weaknesses in the government’s case, the review found, was Mr. Halim’s confession and his assertion that his co-defendants were innocent. New York Times, 17 Nov. 2021 The series explored a theory by scholars that the two men were innocent and that some of the real killers had escaped., 17 Nov. 2021 The series explored a theory by scholars that the two men were innocent and that some of the real killers had escaped. Jennifer Peltz, ajc, 17 Nov. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Most of the novel takes place in a shack where the child was killed and where the man goes to confront God about an ancient question: How can a loving and all-powerful God allow the innocent to suffer? Crocker Stephenson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 24 Aug. 2021 Rye is a shy romantic—the quintessential innocent destined to be wised up by novel’s end. Maureen Corrigan, WSJ, 23 Oct. 2020 With his friends surrounded and needing a distraction, Strand found one in Sanjay, stabbing the innocent in the leg and pushing him toward the zombies as an offering of fresh meat. Dalton Ross,, 19 Oct. 2020 And that raises the question of whether the attack against such innocents might prove to be a tipping point that galvanizes Afghans seeking a way out of war. Scott Peterson, The Christian Science Monitor, 15 May 2020 Others wrestle with how God could allow innocents to suffer. Irving Greenberg, WSJ, 28 May 2020 Siddiqi said the killing of innocents is completely forbidden under Islam, with the preservation of human life being of the utmost importance. Lorraine Longhi, azcentral, 9 May 2020 Paxton Winters' Pacified, an intimate snapshot of one high-risk shantytown community seen through the wide-open eyes of a 13-year-old girl, reverses that push by humanizing its subjects — from the drug lords to the innocents caught in their web. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 25 Apr. 2020 Too many innocents too often caught in the line of deadly fire. Roy S. Johnson |, al, 11 Feb. 2020

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 1b


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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Time Traveler for innocent

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

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Last Updated

28 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Innocent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Dec. 2021.

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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


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

Legal Definition of innocent

: characterized by innocence

More from Merriam-Webster on innocent

Nglish: Translation of innocent for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of innocent for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about innocent


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