Definition of impeachment
OTHER WORDS FROM impeachmentnon·im·peach·ment, noun
Words nearby impeachment
MORE ABOUT IMPEACHMENT
What does impeachment mean?
Impeachment is the act or process of impeaching a public official—formally accusing them of misconduct committed while in office.
The word impeachment can also refer to the state of being impeached. An offense that is cause for someone’s impeachment can be called an impeachable offense.
In the U.S., impeachment is closely associated with the act of officially bringing charges of misconduct against a sitting president (though other federal officials can be impeached).
Impeaching an official is not the same as convicting them or removing them from office—to impeach is simply to formally present charges against them.
Under U.S. law (specifically Article I of the Constitution), the House of Representatives has the power to formally accuse federal officials of misconduct through the process of impeachment. According to the Constitution, an official can be subjected to impeachment if they are alleged to have committed treason, bribery, or “other high crimes and misdemeanors” (this vague term covers a number of offenses but is the subject of debate). The formal charges are called articles of impeachment.
If the House votes in favor of impeachment, the Senate then conducts an impeachment trial. In order for the person to be found guilty, two-thirds of the Senate must vote in favor of conviction. If found guilty, the official is removed from office (and may be forbidden from holding political office again, depending on the ruling of the Senate).
In a more general legal context, the word impeachment can refer to the questioning of a witness’s credibility.
The word impeachment can also be used in a more general way referring to the act of calling into question, as in Your impeachment of my motives is way off-base. It can also refer to the act of challenging or calling to account, as in The impeachment of such behavior is necessary in order to condemn it.
Example: Representatives have said they will proceed with impeachment of the president if he refuses to resign.
Where does impeachment come from?
The first records of the word impeachment come from the 1300s. The suffix -ment is used to form nouns indicating an action or state. The verb impeach comes from the Middle English empechen or enpeshen, from the Late Latin verb impedicāre, meaning “to trap” or “to entangle.” The Latin term pedic(a) at the root of the word means “a fetter” (a shackle for the foot) and comes from the Latin pēs, which means “foot” and is the root of many foot-related words, such as pedicure and pedestrian.
In U.S. history, impeachment is relatively rare, with only a handful of officials ever having been impeached, including just three presidents.
- President Andrew Johnson was impeached in 1868 for violating an act that set rules for appointing or firing federal officials. Johnson was just a single vote short of being found guilty.
- President Bill Clinton was impeached in 1999 on charges that he committed perjury when testifying to a federal grand jury. Clinton was acquitted by the Senate.
- President Donald J. Trump was impeached in 2020 on charges involving corruption and abuse of power after he allegedly attempted to influence the president of Ukraine to perform political favors by withholding military aid that had been approved by Congress. Trump was acquitted by the Senate.
- Trump was impeached a second time in 2021. The article of impeachment introduced by the House of Representatives accused the president of inciting insurrection by encouraging his supporters to storm the Capitol building, where Congress was certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election, in which Trump was defeated by Joseph Biden. Trump is the only president to face impeachment twice.
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What are some other forms related to impeachment?
- impeach (verb)
What are some synonyms for impeachment?
What are some words that share a root or word element with impeachment?
What are some words that often get used in discussing impeachment?
How is impeachment used in real life?
In the U.S., the word impeachment is closely associated with its use in the context of government and politics, especially in cases involving the president. When used generally, impeachment is fairly formal.
Here we go again. The House begins a historic debate that will lead to the first-ever second impeachment of a President.
— Susan Glasser (@sbg1) January 13, 2021
This is a ticket to the 1868 impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson, the first U.S. president to be impeached. Our @amhistorymuseum discusses impeachment collections with a political history curator: https://t.co/swiZVsFbXK pic.twitter.com/DC6iHvemjR
— Smithsonian (@smithsonian) January 11, 2021
Impeachment + conviction only disqualifies one from office if Senate says so in the papers. See the case of judge Alcee Hastings who was impeached, convicted…and is now in Congress. Disqualification is not automatic.
— Danny Cevallos (@CevallosLaw) January 8, 2021
Try using impeachment!
True or False?
The impeachment of a government official always involves them being found guilty of a crime and being removed from office.
How to use impeachment in a sentence
Mandel said the impeachment “got my blood boiling to the point where I decided to run.”Will Senate Republicans allow their louts to rule the party?|George Will|February 12, 2021|Washington Post
The 10 House and six Senate Republicans who have expressed the view that impeachment is not only constitutional but essential are the fringe.
Twice now, 44 Republicans have voted against even proceeding with the trial on the grounds that it is unconstitutional to hold an impeachment trial for a president who is no longer in office.All eyes on Republican senators after strong presentation by House managers|Dan Balz|February 12, 2021|Washington Post
When the impeachment managers began their presentation, which showed how the rioters flooded through the halls of the Capitol, many senators strained in their seats to get a better view of the video monitor.House impeachment managers emphasize the danger to Pence and other top officials in harrowing retelling of Jan. 6 attack|Amy Gardner, Karoun Demirjian, Felicia Sonmez, Paul Kane|February 11, 2021|Washington Post
New footage of this was released at Wednesday’s session of the impeachment trial.Capitol rioters searched for Nancy Pelosi in a way that should make every woman’s skin crawl|Monica Hesse|February 11, 2021|Washington Post
The Democrats were able to sideline Kucinich and avoid a divisive impeachment battle.
Republican leaders today are doing the same thing, using the media to tell their members there will be no impeachment.
“Impeachment is a riveting event in the history of the country,” Kucinich says.
Now, alongside possible impeachment, Hall may face criminal charges as a result of his probe.
But an absence of niceties nor an unwillingness to conform is not a legitimate cause for impeachment.
Both these books contain a violent impeachment of the Italian Grand Master, which, if it concerned us, would not convince us.Devil-Worship in France|Arthur Edward Waite
Impossible to be so disrespectful to the Field Marshal or so inconsiderate to their department as to reject the soft impeachment.Gallipoli Diary, Volume 2|Ian Hamilton
Thurlow, who was annoyed by Pitt's assent to the impeachment of Hastings, strongly objected to Arden's appointment.The Political History of England - Vol. X.|William Hunt
He visited England in 1640, and was consulted by the Earl of Strafford in preparing a defence against his impeachment.Bell's Cathedrals: The Cathedral Church of Carlisle|C. King Eley
Let me own the soft impeachment: I am not a racing man—not in any degree "horsey."Mystic London:|Charles Maurice Davies
British Dictionary definitions for impeachment
Cultural definitions for impeachment
A formal accusation of wrongdoing against a public official. According to the United States Constitution, the House of Representatives can vote to impeach an official, but the Senate actually tries the case. Several presidencies have been blemished by impeachment or the threat of impeachment: President Andrew Johnson was impeached after the Civil War but was acquitted. President Richard Nixon resigned from office as the House of Representatives prepared to initiate impeachment proceedings. President William Jefferson Clinton was impeached in 1998 but was acquitted by the Senate the following year.