Definition of innocent in English:

innocent

adjective

  • 1Not guilty of a crime or offense.

    ‘the arbitrary execution of an innocent man’
    ‘he was innocent of any fraud’
    • ‘The innocent plaintiff is generally entitled to recover either expectation damages or reliance damages, but not both.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Between the wrongful conviction of the innocent and the wrongful acquittal of the guilty, the choice should always be, without any hesitation, the latter.’
    • ‘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 court found that the repudiation by the owners was wrongful and that the plaintiff was the innocent party.’
    • ‘Since they just know whether a defendant is guilty or innocent, why worry about niceties of evidence?’
    • ‘It is worth embarrassing the accuser, to avoid the risk of a wrongful conviction and possibly spare an innocent defendant years in prison.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Let the people, and the world, judge who is right and who is wrong, who is guilty and who innocent.’
    • ‘Everyone charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed innocent until proved guilty in accordance with law.’
    • ‘In French trials, defendants do not plead guilty or innocent at the start of proceedings.’
    • ‘However, the consequences of choosing the cheaper route cannot be to deprive an innocent plaintiff of the ability to prove its case.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Under Turkish law, everyone accused of a political or criminal offence is innocent until the crime is proved.’
    • ‘The plaintiff was an innocent party and acted properly.’
    • ‘It's true that DNA serves a useful purpose both in clearing innocent suspects and convicting guilty ones, but mass testing is troublesome.’
    guiltless, guilt-free, not guilty, blameless, not to blame, in the clear, unimpeachable, irreproachable, above suspicion, beyond criticism, without fault, faultless
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1innocent of[predicative] 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, empty of, clear of, unacquainted with, ignorant of, unaware of, unfamiliar with, untouched by
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2innocent of[predicative] Without experience or knowledge of.
      ‘a man innocent of war's cruelties’
      • ‘He was only about 23, and completely innocent of the wider world.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It is oblivious to the suffering of the Jews in Europe and to the Holocaust and innocent of any knowledge of pogroms or ghettos.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 2[attributive] Not responsible for or directly involved in an event yet suffering its consequences.

    ‘an innocent bystander’
    • ‘We strongly condemn this operation that happened in Jerusalem today, especially that it was directed against innocent Israeli civilians.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It is even possible that innocent bystanders may suffer casualties as a result.’
    • ‘It didn't help, of course, not really, but at least there were no innocent bystanders around to suffer my invective.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘But, with that intensity have come many and varied tantrums and out-bursts, often directed at wholly innocent bystanders.’
    • ‘Amnesty International is worried that the stun guns could ‘inflict pain and other suffering on innocent bystanders’.’
    • ‘Remember Vietnam and the endless suffering of innocent people.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘This campaign helps make a difference to ease the suffering of so many innocent people languishing in prison.’
    • ‘As a rule such conflicts take the form of ‘contract killings’ of certain businessmen not involving the murder of innocent bystanders.’
    • ‘He apologized for hitting the wrong people, saying he didn't like getting innocent bystanders involved.’
    • ‘For those involved in internal security operations, a ricochet striking an innocent bystander can have major political consequences.’
    • ‘Much of the policing so far is unobjectionable in its goals and motivation but barely acceptable in the costs to innocent civilian bystanders.’
    • ‘And for that world, it is now imperative that no further suffering is inflicted on innocent people.’
    • ‘This appeal raises the question of the availability of the remedy of subrogation as against an innocent third party purchaser.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘However, indefinite containment without a plan will only prolong the suffering for innocent Iraqis.’
  • 3Free from moral wrong; not corrupted.

    ‘an innocent child’
    • ‘Freeing an innocent girl from the many lies that had enveloped her life hardly fits the description of an evil act.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘We know that it is wrong to destroy innocent life-forms.’
    • ‘Babies are so beautiful, so innocent and not yet corrupted by our evil world full of shady characters.’
    • ‘She was innocent, easily corrupted by Destiny's ways.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘But collective punishment of a whole people, especially of innocent children, is wrong.’
    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
    View synonyms
    1. 3.1 Simple; naive.
      ‘she is a poor, innocent young creature’
      • ‘Perhaps it is the illusion of a simpler, more innocent time that draws people unexpectedly under its power.’
      • ‘Eddie is an innocent, naïve and wide-eyed security guard inadvertently caught up in Gary and Frank's plans.’
      • ‘Now, call me naive and slightly innocent… but I figured this was a safe thing to do.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘So when I saw how innocent, how naive he was, I took it upon myself to be his mentor.’
      • ‘It allows us to revisit a time in our past when life was simpler and more innocent.’
      • ‘I was still naïve, innocent, and open in seventh grade.’
      • ‘He is very innocent, even more naive than Sasha.’
      • ‘They stand quite capable of transporting a willing listener back to the simpler, more innocent days of techno: the early 1990s.’
      • ‘She was simply too innocent, too naive to understand the look he had when he looked at her.’
      • ‘You might think we are fools to be so naive, so innocent, so foolish.’
      • ‘He was like a little child, too innocent, too naive.’
      • ‘Niceland revolves around Jed - a simple, innocent young man who very likely has some sort of developmental disorder.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘We grew up in a simpler, more innocent Ireland, a less-complicated Ireland.’
      • ‘Little did I know that it would corrupt my innocent little mind.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In the light of this, one might be inclined to say that she is naïve or innocent or foolhardy.’
      • ‘Her eyes always had a way of making everything seem so sweet, so innocent, and so simple.’
      • ‘She was innocent, simple, and, no matter what tales of travel she told, most likely lost.’
      naive, ingenuous, trusting, trustful, over-trusting, credulous, unsuspicious, unsuspecting, unwary, unguarded, unsceptical, impressionable, gullible, easily deceived, easily taken in, easily led
      View synonyms
  • 4Not intended to cause harm or offense; harmless.

    ‘an innocent mistake’
    • ‘The mimicry programmes may be crude, but they are harmless and provide innocent fun to the audience.’
    • ‘It was a simple question, an innocent question.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘That seemingly innocent change has dramatic consequences for phenomenology.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘So it could hardly have been an innocent mistake.’
    • ‘It would seem the most innocent of Christmas stories.’
    • ‘When trainees have no riskfree way of getting adequate explanations, they may draw the wrong conclusions about entirely innocent research conduct.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Ill-timed injury was partly to blame, but so was an innocent jest that went wrong.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I'd like to believe that the Times just made an innocent mistake.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘We all agreed that the situation was purely innocent, harmless Internet fun.’
    • ‘But their eagerly anticipated innocent pleasure has been jeopardised by the antics of a few selfish individuals on bikes.’
    • ‘As far as I'm concerned, this sounds like an innocent mistake.’
    • ‘The Republicans are acting like it was all an innocent mistake.’
    • ‘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.’
    harmless, innocuous, safe, non-injurious, unobjectionable, inoffensive, playful
    benign, non-cancerous, non-malignant, non-dangerous, harmless, not life-threatening
    View synonyms

noun

  • 1An innocent person, in particular.

    1. 1.1 A pure, guileless, or naive person.
      ‘she was an innocent compared with this man’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Where race in America is concerned, there are no innocents.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘‘There was a period when he really ran out of juice in terms of playing the young innocent,’ observes Stoff.’
      • ‘They were innocents abroad who were only doing what their society expected of them.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Now it seems they weren't the only innocents abroad in Prague in the late '80s, early 90s.’
      • ‘Balcon saw the story as a heartwarming tale of a young innocent's triumph over adversity, against the fantastic scenery of the African continent.’
      • ‘She was far from a naive young innocent; she knew exactly what was happening, what had been happening since last night.’
      • ‘But he also knew that God's mercy would protect the innocent.’
      • ‘Oh, out of the mouths of babes - there's always a giggle to be had from the young innocents.’
      • ‘Worst of all, it seeps into the children at a young age, turning them from innocents into fanatics.’
      • ‘Let them know how you ruined a young innocent's life.’
      • ‘but it very quickly becomes apparent that he is actually a pure innocent who means no harm by his break-ins.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘You and the babe are no innocents, and you well know that it is madness for you to expect any shelter from us.’
      • ‘From the mouths of innocents and babes comes the truth.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘His wife and I are also uncertain about those young innocents you tutor.’
      • ‘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.’
      unworldly person, naive person
      child
      novice, greenhorn
      ingénue
      babe in arms, babe
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 A 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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘My concern is especially for the innocents who are maimed or killed though the irresponsible behaviour of the motorbike drivers causing the problems.’
      • ‘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 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.’
      • ‘But try telling that to the poor innocents, men, women and beautiful young children who are murdered in these attacks.’
      • ‘The intentional killing of civilians is proscribed, and so are military actions that show a gross disregard for the lives of innocents.’
      • ‘People who purposely attack innocents are not interested in freedom!’
      • ‘Iraq spells war, and war means the killing of the innocents, babies, the very young, the very old and those in between.’
      • ‘But innocents, including women and children, are killed.’
      • ‘How does one honor people who terrorize innocents?’
      • ‘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!’
      • ‘In this instance, everyone had an aesthetic opinion, as if aesthetics had anything to do with the sacrificial slaughter of 6,000 innocents.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Here we have on our doorstep a way of bringing to account those people who commit heinous crimes against our innocents.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In the ticking bomb instance, does the duty to protect thousands of innocents override the duty not to torture?’
      • ‘No other insurgency has been so entirely captivated by the sheer joy of deliberate violence against the innocent.’
      • ‘The tsunami has evoked much commentary on the ‘meaning’ of the deaths of innocents and the malevolence of nature.’
      • ‘If the question is how to achieve a just goal while inflicting minimal damage, especially to innocents, the answer may sometimes be military action.’
    3. 1.3the Innocents The young children killed by Herod after the birth of Jesus (Matt. 2:16)
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘We remember today, 0 Lord, the slaughter of the holy innocents of Bethlehem by King Herod.’
      • ‘Some of the engravings, such as The Judgement of Paris and The Massacre of the Innocents are among Raphael's most fascinating master-pieces.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It certainly helped to make sense of the whole tragic affair by recalling the slaughter of the holy innocents in Matthew 2.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I think of The Slaughtering of the Innocents for example, that was one of the paintings there.’
      • ‘There is no redemptive word in Herod's slaughter of the innocents and the inconsolable weeping of all the mothers of Bethlehem.’
      • ‘In July, Rubens's masterpiece Massacre of the Innocents fetched a record stg £49.5 million.’

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

/ˈinəsənt/