Definition of innocent in US English:

innocent

adjective

  • 1Not guilty of a crime or offense.

    ‘the arbitrary execution of an innocent man’
    ‘he was innocent of any fraud’
    • ‘It is worth embarrassing the accuser, to avoid the risk of a wrongful conviction and possibly spare an innocent defendant years in prison.’
    • ‘They had to decide - on the basis of the legal arguments put forward - whether the defendant was guilty or innocent.’
    • ‘But knowledge of your wife's pregnancy is not a felony offense yet so he did not plead innocent or not guilty to that.’
    • ‘Let the people, and the world, judge who is right and who is wrong, who is guilty and who innocent.’
    • ‘If we did follow a policy of no victims' names, we'd be horribly unfair to the other party, the person who's picked up for the crime and who is innocent until proved guilty.’
    • ‘The innocent plaintiff is generally entitled to recover either expectation damages or reliance damages, but not both.’
    • ‘Everyone charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed innocent until proved guilty in accordance with law.’
    • ‘In the US justice system if an innocent man found guilty at trial does not feign guilt and remorse he is likely to be mercilessly punished.’
    • ‘The court found that the repudiation by the owners was wrongful and that the plaintiff was the innocent party.’
    • ‘It's true that DNA serves a useful purpose both in clearing innocent suspects and convicting guilty ones, but mass testing is troublesome.’
    • ‘However, the consequences of choosing the cheaper route cannot be to deprive an innocent plaintiff of the ability to prove its case.’
    • ‘Under Turkish law, everyone accused of a political or criminal offence is innocent until the crime is proved.’
    • ‘Until anyone is convicted of any crime, no matter how horrific the crime, they are innocent until proven guilty.’
    • ‘The judge pointed out that the absence of previous convictions did not of itself mean that a defendant was innocent anymore than the existence of previous convictions meant that a defendant was guilty.’
    • ‘Since they just know whether a defendant is guilty or innocent, why worry about niceties of evidence?’
    • ‘Thirty-two years ago since I was called to the Bar and in 32 years I have never known anybody who pleaded guilty when they were innocent.’
    • ‘There is no doubt that the people who died were innocent of any wrongdoing, at both tragedies, but there were people at both tragedies who were not innocent; and they were not all policemen.’
    • ‘The plaintiff was an innocent party and acted properly.’
    • ‘Between the wrongful conviction of the innocent and the wrongful acquittal of the guilty, the choice should always be, without any hesitation, the latter.’
    • ‘In French trials, defendants do not plead guilty or innocent at the start of proceedings.’
    guiltless, guilt-free, not guilty, blameless, not to blame, in the clear, unimpeachable, irreproachable, above suspicion, beyond criticism, without fault, faultless
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    1. 1.1innocent ofpredicative Without experience or knowledge of.
      ‘a man innocent of war's cruelties’
      • ‘He was only about 23, and completely innocent of the wider world.’
      • ‘The accepted view was that girls going to the marriage bed would be innocent of any sexual experience and would then gain it from their ‘considerate’ husbands.’
      • ‘It is oblivious to the suffering of the Jews in Europe and to the Holocaust and innocent of any knowledge of pogroms or ghettos.’
      • ‘She knows she is innocent of infernal rites or knowledge of Satan, but she also knows that she has seduced and killed with psychological precision.’
    2. 1.2innocent ofpredicative Without; lacking.
      ‘a street quite innocent of bookstores’
      • ‘He suggested it was worrying to players to suspect they could inadvertently test positive for a banned substance, believing it to be innocent of such chemicals.’
      free from, without, lacking, lacking in, empty of, clear of, unacquainted with, ignorant of, unaware of, unfamiliar with, untouched by
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  • 2attributive Not responsible for or directly involved in an event yet suffering its consequences.

    ‘an innocent bystander’
    • ‘The Evening Press is calling on the people of York and North and East Yorkshire to help ease the suffering of innocent children in Iraq.’
    • ‘But, with that intensity have come many and varied tantrums and out-bursts, often directed at wholly innocent bystanders.’
    • ‘Much of the policing so far is unobjectionable in its goals and motivation but barely acceptable in the costs to innocent civilian bystanders.’
    • ‘However, indefinite containment without a plan will only prolong the suffering for innocent Iraqis.’
    • ‘As a rule such conflicts take the form of ‘contract killings’ of certain businessmen not involving the murder of innocent bystanders.’
    • ‘This appeal raises the question of the availability of the remedy of subrogation as against an innocent third party purchaser.’
    • ‘He knew that he was not responsible they were just innocent bystanders, he had done nothing wrong, what blame there was rested with other people.’
    • ‘And for that world, it is now imperative that no further suffering is inflicted on innocent people.’
    • ‘Amnesty International is worried that the stun guns could ‘inflict pain and other suffering on innocent bystanders’.’
    • ‘This campaign helps make a difference to ease the suffering of so many innocent people languishing in prison.’
    • ‘For those involved in internal security operations, a ricochet striking an innocent bystander can have major political consequences.’
    • ‘But Afghanistan is a hard land and the simple fact remains that those fighting for control of power rarely, if ever, bother about the suffering of innocent civilians.’
    • ‘Remember Vietnam and the endless suffering of innocent people.’
    • ‘This in fact means to struggle in the way of God by striving to do good, and to fight against only those who persecute and not by attacking innocent civilians or bystanders.’
    • ‘However, we are now at war so we all need to face up to the reality and do as much as we can to ease the suffering of innocent civilians.’
    • ‘It really is remarkable that so many people have been so cavalier in considering our responsibility for the mass death of completely innocent and completely defenceless civilians.’
    • ‘It is even possible that innocent bystanders may suffer casualties as a result.’
    • ‘He apologized for hitting the wrong people, saying he didn't like getting innocent bystanders involved.’
    • ‘It didn't help, of course, not really, but at least there were no innocent bystanders around to suffer my invective.’
    • ‘We strongly condemn this operation that happened in Jerusalem today, especially that it was directed against innocent Israeli civilians.’
  • 3Free from moral wrong; not corrupted.

    ‘an innocent child’
    • ‘She was innocent, easily corrupted by Destiny's ways.’
    • ‘Freeing an innocent girl from the many lies that had enveloped her life hardly fits the description of an evil act.’
    • ‘But collective punishment of a whole people, especially of innocent children, is wrong.’
    • ‘This Satanist conspiracy has as its agents all scientists and teachers who are actively trying to corrupt innocent children through public education.’
    • ‘Tell me that television isn't a babysitter, and that I'm corrupting her innocent l'il mind.’
    • ‘We know that it is wrong to destroy innocent life-forms.’
    • ‘We may have lost this round, but we will continue to fight until an innocent girl is set free to live and enjoy her life.’
    • ‘While we wait, one of us might write a speculative novel about a happy, innocent world mercifully free of insufferable literary talk.’
    • ‘Babies are so beautiful, so innocent and not yet corrupted by our evil world full of shady characters.’
    virtuous, pure, sinless, free of sin, moral, decent, righteous, upright, wholesome, demure, modest, chaste, virginal, virgin, impeccable, pristine, spotless, stainless, unblemished, unsullied, incorrupt, uncorrupted, uncontaminated, undefiled
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    1. 3.1 Simple; naive.
      ‘she is a poor, innocent young creature’
      • ‘Niceland revolves around Jed - a simple, innocent young man who very likely has some sort of developmental disorder.’
      • ‘She was simply too innocent, too naive to understand the look he had when he looked at her.’
      • ‘So when I saw how innocent, how naive he was, I took it upon myself to be his mentor.’
      • ‘He is very innocent, even more naive than Sasha.’
      • ‘We grew up in a simpler, more innocent Ireland, a less-complicated Ireland.’
      • ‘He knows he is innocent and naïve - he doesn't always know what to do or say - but he believes it is important to be tough, and to belong.’
      • ‘She was innocent, simple, and, no matter what tales of travel she told, most likely lost.’
      • ‘Her eyes always had a way of making everything seem so sweet, so innocent, and so simple.’
      • ‘Now, call me naive and slightly innocent… but I figured this was a safe thing to do.’
      • ‘Eddie is an innocent, naïve and wide-eyed security guard inadvertently caught up in Gary and Frank's plans.’
      • ‘Little did I know that it would corrupt my innocent little mind.’
      • ‘He was like a little child, too innocent, too naive.’
      • ‘You could believe he was a young cop because LAPD cops are big and strong and physical and he's also young and naïve and innocent and wide eyed.’
      • ‘Perhaps it is the illusion of a simpler, more innocent time that draws people unexpectedly under its power.’
      • ‘You might think we are fools to be so naive, so innocent, so foolish.’
      • ‘I was still naïve, innocent, and open in seventh grade.’
      • ‘They stand quite capable of transporting a willing listener back to the simpler, more innocent days of techno: the early 1990s.’
      • ‘It allows us to revisit a time in our past when life was simpler and more innocent.’
      • ‘In the light of this, one might be inclined to say that she is naïve or innocent or foolhardy.’
      • ‘To rot this thread just a little I really think we've done children a complete disservice by assuming them to be naive, innocent little creatures.’
      naive, ingenuous, trusting, trustful, over-trusting, credulous, unsuspicious, unsuspecting, unwary, unguarded, unsceptical, impressionable, gullible, easily deceived, easily taken in, easily led
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  • 4Not intended to cause harm or offense; harmless.

    ‘an innocent mistake’
    • ‘We all agreed that the situation was purely innocent, harmless Internet fun.’
    • ‘My innocent pleasure in those evenings shattered when a local gossip spread the word that I was on the prowl for other women's husbands, one in particular.’
    • ‘So it could hardly have been an innocent mistake.’
    • ‘I'd like to believe that the Times just made an innocent mistake.’
    • ‘It was a simple question, an innocent question.’
    • ‘I was present throughout it and that she should make up a story like that from such an innocent event is - I think it's disgraceful.’
    • ‘Offending drivers are to be pulled over as part of a pilot scheme and ‘given advice’ rather than booked, on the basis that it is pointless fining people for innocent mistakes.’
    • ‘But where I think the learned judge has erred, is in making the possibility of such an innocent breach of the covenant a test of its validity.’
    • ‘The notion that linking to such material is an innocent mistake that anyone could make is one that, for all my charitable instincts, I find difficult to swallow.’
    • ‘The Republicans are acting like it was all an innocent mistake.’
    • ‘Ill-timed injury was partly to blame, but so was an innocent jest that went wrong.’
    • ‘The mimicry programmes may be crude, but they are harmless and provide innocent fun to the audience.’
    • ‘A second change I have noticed has been the way in which people react to seemingly innocent events.’
    • ‘You quickly and publicly recognize that even if it was an innocent mistake, his credibility is now so damaged that he can no longer help the party by remaining in the leadership.’
    • ‘I remind you again, this is university - it seems preposterous to me that a seemingly innocent event such as carrying home a drunken friend could wind you up in so much trouble.’
    • ‘That seemingly innocent change has dramatic consequences for phenomenology.’
    • ‘As far as I'm concerned, this sounds like an innocent mistake.’
    • ‘It would seem the most innocent of Christmas stories.’
    • ‘But their eagerly anticipated innocent pleasure has been jeopardised by the antics of a few selfish individuals on bikes.’
    • ‘When trainees have no riskfree way of getting adequate explanations, they may draw the wrong conclusions about entirely innocent research conduct.’
    harmless, innocuous, safe, non-injurious, unobjectionable, inoffensive, playful
    benign, non-cancerous, non-malignant, non-dangerous, harmless, not life-threatening
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noun

  • 1A pure, guileless, or naive person.

    ‘she was an innocent compared with this man’
    • ‘But he also knew that God's mercy would protect the innocent.’
    • ‘Let them know how you ruined a young innocent's life.’
    • ‘A kind-hearted innocent with a passion for the lives of the saints, Damian is playing in his own cardboard sanctuary when a bag falls from the heavens.’
    • ‘Where race in America is concerned, there are no innocents.’
    • ‘‘There was a period when he really ran out of juice in terms of playing the young innocent,’ observes Stoff.’
    • ‘Oh, out of the mouths of babes - there's always a giggle to be had from the young innocents.’
    • ‘Verloc is here a cinema owner instead of a tobacconist, and Stevie, the retarded child in the novel, is recast as merely a young innocent.’
    • ‘She was far from a naive young innocent; she knew exactly what was happening, what had been happening since last night.’
    • ‘His wife and I are also uncertain about those young innocents you tutor.’
    • ‘They are particularly impressive in their roles as the two younger girls - innocents who quickly come to grips with the nastiness of their new reality.’
    • ‘He says the Telegraph ignored important reasons to suppose that the girl, or more likely her parents, were not innocents abroad but downloaders on a big scale.’
    • ‘My own mother was as naive a little innocent as any who had ever lived, had nothing more than a vague idea as to what the more persistent of her pursuers wanted.’
    • ‘Balcon saw the story as a heartwarming tale of a young innocent's triumph over adversity, against the fantastic scenery of the African continent.’
    • ‘Now it seems they weren't the only innocents abroad in Prague in the late '80s, early 90s.’
    • ‘Worst of all, it seeps into the children at a young age, turning them from innocents into fanatics.’
    • ‘I said, you know, I'd like to bring my friend because I was still, you know, very much an innocent and kind of naive.’
    • ‘From the mouths of innocents and babes comes the truth.’
    • ‘You and the babe are no innocents, and you well know that it is madness for you to expect any shelter from us.’
    • ‘but it very quickly becomes apparent that he is actually a pure innocent who means no harm by his break-ins.’
    • ‘They were innocents abroad who were only doing what their society expected of them.’
    unworldly person, naive person
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  • 2A person involved by chance in a situation, especially a victim of crime or war.

    ‘they are prepared to kill or maim innocents in pursuit of a cause’
    • ‘I have no sympathy for whatever cause they think they are fighting for when I read or hear of such senseless acts of murder against innocents.’
    • ‘But try telling that to the poor innocents, men, women and beautiful young children who are murdered in these attacks.’
    • ‘For a killer with the blood of one or two or 10 innocents on his hands, such a punishment might reasonably be said to fit the crime.’
    • ‘As we seek God about ways to overcome the murder of innocents in our day, it is important to remember that those who are complicit in this tragedy are children of God no less than those who cherish all life.’
    • ‘People who purposely attack innocents are not interested in freedom!’
    • ‘The tsunami has evoked much commentary on the ‘meaning’ of the deaths of innocents and the malevolence of nature.’
    • ‘But innocents, including women and children, are killed.’
    • ‘The intentional killing of civilians is proscribed, and so are military actions that show a gross disregard for the lives of innocents.’
    • ‘In the ticking bomb instance, does the duty to protect thousands of innocents override the duty not to torture?’
    • ‘But this was the mass murder of innocents - pulled off, incidentally, by non-poor young men who had not spent their lives scavenging for food scraps.’
    • ‘The idea that we might all agree to call the murder of thousands of innocents an evil act is obviously still too daring for the generation that is destined to replace us!’
    • ‘My concern is especially for the innocents who are maimed or killed though the irresponsible behaviour of the motorbike drivers causing the problems.’
    • ‘Here we have on our doorstep a way of bringing to account those people who commit heinous crimes against our innocents.’
    • ‘No other insurgency has been so entirely captivated by the sheer joy of deliberate violence against the innocent.’
    • ‘As a test of the independence and honesty of the mass media, few tasks are more revealing than that of reporting our own government's responsibility for the killing of innocents abroad.’
    • ‘Iraq spells war, and war means the killing of the innocents, babies, the very young, the very old and those in between.’
    • ‘In this instance, everyone had an aesthetic opinion, as if aesthetics had anything to do with the sacrificial slaughter of 6,000 innocents.’
    • ‘If the question is how to achieve a just goal while inflicting minimal damage, especially to innocents, the answer may sometimes be military action.’
    • ‘How does one honor people who terrorize innocents?’
    • ‘This terrorism from below is undoubtedly evil, because it strikes at innocents to get back at an oppressor; but its evil is refracted through the objective reality of that oppressor.’
    1. 2.1the Innocents The young children killed by Herod after the birth of Jesus (Matt. 2:16).
      • ‘It certainly helped to make sense of the whole tragic affair by recalling the slaughter of the holy innocents in Matthew 2.’
      • ‘As with the Transfiguration and Hiroshima, the stories of the Sudan and the massacre of the innocents under Herod are now fused in my mind.’
      • ‘I think of The Slaughtering of the Innocents for example, that was one of the paintings there.’
      • ‘You're very substantial acquirers, but do you still go after the really, really big pieces like the Rubens Massacre of the Innocents last year?’
      • ‘There is no redemptive word in Herod's slaughter of the innocents and the inconsolable weeping of all the mothers of Bethlehem.’
      • ‘Even so, as Rubens's Massacre of the Innocents was sold for 49.5 million [pounds sterling] two years ago, it ought to fetch a decent sum.’
      • ‘In the lower register of the west bay there are traces of what was probably the Presentation in the Temple and, in the wider area above a small door, the Flight in to Egypt, followed by the Massacre of the Innocents in the vault above.’
      • ‘Ask most people today what he is known for and they will only mention the Massacre of the Innocents referred to in the Gospel of St Matthew.’
      • ‘In July, Rubens's masterpiece Massacre of the Innocents fetched a record stg £49.5 million.’
      • ‘At the National Gallery a series of works is accumulating around the rediscovered Massacre of the Innocents, whose owner has generously agreed to place it on loan.’
      • ‘We remember today, 0 Lord, the slaughter of the holy innocents of Bethlehem by King Herod.’
      • ‘Whether he is representing aggression, as in the Massacre of the Innocents, or strength subdued, as in Samson and Delilah, it is possible to use this exaggeration to make his point.’
      • ‘Regardless of its condition problems, it nevertheless seems more than likely that both the Samson and Delilah and the Massacre of the Innocents preceded it, and that Jaffe's dating of the latter is too late.’
      • ‘Durer may have shown him what subject matter would be appreciated abroad, for the first of these engravings mentioned by Vasari is the Massacre of the Innocents, another study of nudes.’
      • ‘Some of the engravings, such as The Judgement of Paris and The Massacre of the Innocents are among Raphael's most fascinating master-pieces.’

Usage

Innocent properly means ‘harmless,’ but it has long been extended in general language to mean ‘not guilty.’ The jury (or judge) in a criminal trial does not, strictly speaking, find a defendant ‘innocent.’ Rather, a defendant may be guilty or not guilty of the charges brought. In common use, however, owing perhaps to the concept of the presumption of innocence, which instructs a jury to consider a defendant free of wrongdoing until proven guilty on the basis of evidence, ‘not guilty’ and ‘innocent’ have come to be thought of as synonymous. See also plead

Origin

Middle English: from Old French, or from Latin innocent- ‘not harming’, from in- ‘not’ + nocere ‘to hurt’.

Pronunciation

innocent

/ˈɪnəsənt//ˈinəsənt/