Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Uncorrupted by evil, malice, or wrongdoing; sinless.
  • adjective Not guilty of a specific crime or offense; legally blameless.
  • adjective Within, allowed by, or sanctioned by the law; lawful.
  • adjective Not dangerous or harmful; innocuous.
  • adjective Candid; straightforward.
  • adjective Not experienced or worldly; naive.
  • adjective Betraying or suggesting no deception or guile; artless.
  • adjective Not exposed to or familiar with something specified; ignorant.
  • adjective Unaware.
  • adjective Lacking, deprived, or devoid of something.
  • noun A person, especially a child, who is free of evil or sin.
  • noun A simple, guileless, inexperienced, or unsophisticated person.
  • noun A very young child.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Free from any quality that can cause physical or moral injury; harmless in effect; innoxious.
  • Free from any moral wrong; not tainted with sin; upright; pure: as, innocent children; an innocent action.
  • Free from legal or specific wrong; guiltless: as, to be innocent of crime.
  • Free from illegality: as, innocent goods carried to a belligerent.
  • Artless; naïve.
  • Simple; wanting knowledge or sense; imbecile; idiotic.
  • Small, modest, and pretty: applied to children and flowers.
  • noun An innocent person, especially a little child, as free from actual sin.
  • noun An artless or simple person; a natural; a simpleton; an idiot.
  • noun Same as innocence, 6.
  • In pathology, benign; not malignant.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun An innocent person; one free from, or unacquainted with, guilt or sin.
  • noun An unsophisticated person; hence, a child; a simpleton; an idiot.
  • noun (Eccl.) Childermas day.
  • adjective Not harmful; free from that which can injure; innoxious; innocuous; harmless.
  • adjective Morally free from guilt; guiltless; not tainted with sin; pure; upright.
  • adjective Free from the guilt of a particular crime or offense.
  • adjective Simple; artless; foolish.
  • adjective Lawful; permitted.
  • adjective Not contraband; not subject to forfeiture.
  • adjective (Law) a party who has not notice of a fact tainting a litigated transaction with illegality.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Free from guilt, sin, or immorality.
  • adjective Bearing no legal responsibility for a wrongful act.
  • adjective Naive; artless.
  • adjective Harmless in intent.
  • adjective Having no knowledge (of something).
  • adjective Lacking (something).
  • noun Those who are innocent; young children.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective lacking intent or capacity to injure
  • adjective lacking in sophistication or worldliness
  • adjective free from evil or guilt
  • adjective free from sin
  • noun a person who lacks knowledge of evil

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin innocēns, innocent- : in-, not; see in– + nocēns, present participle of nocēre, to harm; see nek- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Latin in- ("not") + nocēns, present participle of noceō ("to hurt").

Examples

  • Many innocent acts _occasion_ evil, and in such case all I am bound to ask myself before doing such _innocent act_, is, "Shall I occasion, on the whole, more harm or good."

    The Anti-Slavery Examiner, Omnibus

  • Many innocent acts _occasion_ evil, and in such case all I am bound to ask myself before doing such _innocent act_, is, "Shall I occasion, on the whole, more harm or good."

    The Anti-Slavery Examiner, Part 4 of 4

  • This innocent rhetoric, from the realm of religious-ethical balderdash, appears _a good deal less innocent_ when one reflects upon the tendency that it conceals beneath sublime words: the tendency to _destroy life_.

    The Antichrist

  • This twisted notion that we would only observe our own laws, our own Constitution, our own Enlightenment Age ideals-if there was something in it for us, if we could somehow profit by it - appalls me. brought to mind something in a talk given by Sabine Willet (one of the attys for the Uighur and a commerical bankruptucy lawyer who felt compelled by the injustice to do something - while DOJ litigators felt compelled to lie to courts and continue to block habeas requests for men who their own files showed were innocent and had been abused and tortured bc of governmental policy that * no one leaves GITMO innocent*)

    Firedoglake

  • The phrase "innocent bystander" is ironic; in reality, bystanders are as guilty as perpetrators when it comes to perpetuating the patterns of violence in this country.

    Lisa Firestone: Bullying And Beyond: How To Stop Violent Behavior

  • The phrase "innocent bystander" is ironic; in reality, bystanders are as guilty as perpetrators when it comes to perpetuating the patterns of violence in this country.

    Lisa Firestone: Bullying And Beyond: How To Stop Violent Behavior

  • Sure, some innocent, and I use the term innocent loosely because it would be hard for a priest to be innocent in that environment of poverty, occassionly get shot unintensionly.

    The Black Fist Calls For Peace

  • Maybe I believe in what you called the innocent until proven guilty bit.

    Cruel Intent

  • The Homeland Security secretary said most of those incursions are what he called innocent, and he declared reporting on the issue has been overblown and not helpful.

    CNN Transcript Jan 18, 2006

  • Some have maintained that we should conform to the ways of the world somewhat — at least, enough to show that we can enjoy the world and religion too; and that we make religion appear repulsive to unconverted souls by turning our backs upon what they call their innocent amusements.

    Power From On High

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