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

She was imprisoned and made a political pariah, accused of persecuting innocent officials, scholars and students, including Deng Pufang, the son of the later Communist leader Deng Xiaoping. Chris Buckley, New York Times, "Nie Yuanzi, Whose Poster Fanned the Cultural Revolution, Dies at 98," 3 Sep. 2019 The medical profession would effectively be pointing the finger of suspicion at one in every twenty innocent doctors—thousands of clinicians in the U.K. Doctors would be penalized for treating higher-risk patients. Hannah Fry, The New Yorker, "What Statistics Can and Can’t Tell Us About Ourselves," 2 Sep. 2019 An innocent part of him really does just want to follow his mother's guidance and make people smile. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Joker': Film Review | Venice 2019," 31 Aug. 2019 This fear is driven in part by the experience of some innocent Hispanic teenagers who found themselves embroiled in deportation proceedings after being wrongly accused of being members of the fearsome international gang MS-13. David Hundeyin, CNN, "Opinion: FBI fraud busts dent Nigeria's global reputation," 29 Aug. 2019 In this case, Schultz said if the lack of itemization proves to be an innocent mistake, Omar might face little repercussions, such as a small fine. Dave Orrick, Twin Cities, "Ilhan Omar under scrutiny: First marriage, then fidelity, now a federal campaign complaint. And a State Fair death threat.," 28 Aug. 2019 The Lightsaber Gets Mauled The year 1999 was an innocent time. Darren Orf, Popular Mechanics, "A Brief History of Our Love-Hate Relationship With Weird Lightsabers," 27 Aug. 2019 Pink has posted many innocent enough photos of her children — remember the taco meal one? Sonja Haller, USA TODAY, "Pink challenges critics, mom-shamers to stop for one day. Hubby Hart calls it a 'long shot'," 19 Aug. 2019 His innocent choices, such as his colorful clothes, prove a constant source of bullying. Jasmine Gomez, Seventeen, "The "Stranger Things"'s Creators May Have Just Revealed Whether Will Byers is Gay," 19 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

America will continue to bury its innocents massacred in bulk until the federal government and the fifty states address gun violence as a crisis. Phillip Morris,, "Dayton massacre has properly focused Gov. DeWine on gun violence: Phillip Morris," 7 Aug. 2019 From Ted Bundy to Jack the Ripper, new DNA technology is solving murder mysteries, finding serial killers, and exonerating innocents. John Bacon, USA TODAY, "DNA leads to cold case arrest: Ex-law enforcement officer charged in 'horrific' sexual assaults," 14 May 2019 As helpless as all those innocents murdered by your violent citizens who suck up to the NRA. Dp Opinion, The Denver Post, "Letters: Defending culling of geese; Culling angers Canadian; If the shoe fits…; Give that team a raise (7/10/19)," 10 July 2019 Most adults would probably prefer to let children be innocents for as long as possible rather than broach difficult topics, like borders, walls, and the ruling of kingdoms and countries. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "How to talk to small kids about big issues like border walls," 7 July 2019 The show’s drama pivots upon the question of whether Mr. Pickles is a Mr. Rogers-style innocent, or a naif out of step with the modern world. Akiva Gottlieb,, "With 'Kidding,' Jim Carrey delves into the many facets of identity," 14 June 2019 As moral inhibitions are swept away, innocents are exposed to unspeakable horror. E.j. Dionne Jr., The Mercury News, "Dionne: The high cost of our ‘Age of Impunity’," 7 July 2019 Cars slammed on brakes, wrenched steering wheels, and skidded in heavy traffic to avoid the innocents. Sainted & Tainted Writers, Twin Cities, "Tainted: You dropped kittens out of a car window on the highway. What kind of person does that?," 29 June 2019 The fundamentalists who shot and bombed innocents and openly assassinated fellow Sikhs are now being reconstructed as peaceful activists. Ali Kazimi, Quartz India, "A Canadian artist is keeping the embers of Sikh separatism alive with false equivalences," 27 June 2019

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

7 Sep 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).


one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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