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verb (used with object)
  1. to challenge as false (another's statements, motives, etc.); cast doubt upon.
  2. Archaic. to assail (a person) by words or arguments; vilify.
  3. Obsolete. to attack (a person) physically.
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Origin of impugn

1325–75; Middle English impugnen < Middle French impugner < Latin impugnāre to attack, equivalent to im- im-1 + pugnāre to fight, derivative of pugnus fist; see pugnacious
Related formsim·pugn·a·ble, adjectiveim·pugn·a·bil·i·ty, nounim·pugn·er, nounim·pugn·ment, nounun·im·pugn·a·ble, adjectiveun·im·pugned, adjective
Can be confusedimpugn impute

Synonyms for impugn

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for impugn

assail, contravene, tar, knock, deny, blast, traduce, contradict, question, traverse, cross, resist, attack, break, oppose, negative, smear, negate, trash, slam

Examples from the Web for impugn

Contemporary Examples of impugn

Historical Examples of impugn

  • If you do, he will have to swear to his words; and we are perfectly sure that no one will be found to impugn him.

  • But as you are about to stake your life on the issue, I cannot impugn your sincerity.

  • Neeld admitted that he had no reason to impugn the Major's character.

    Tristram of Blent

    Anthony Hope

  • I will not impugn the 174intelligence of this jury by a review of the evidence in so plain a case.

    The Hindered Hand

    Sutton E. Griggs

  • Not being able to impugn her beauty, they attacked her costume.

British Dictionary definitions for impugn


  1. (tr) to challenge or attack as false; assail; criticize
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Derived Formsimpugnable, adjectiveimpugnation (ˌɪmpʌɡˈneɪʃən) or impugnment, nounimpugner, noun

Word Origin for impugn

C14: from Old French impugner, from Latin impugnāre to fight against, attack, from im- + pugnāre to fight
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for impugn


"attack by argument," late 14c., from Old French impugner, from Latin impugnare "to assault, to attack," from assimilated form of in- "into, in, on, upon" (see in- (2)) + pugnare "to fight" (see pugnacious). Related: Impugned; impugning.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper