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Borrowed from Middle French impugner, from Latin impugnō, from im- + pugnō (fight), from pugnus (fist), as in English pugilism (fighting with fists, boxing); from Proto-Indo-European roots.


  • (file)
  • IPA(key): /ɪmˈpjuːn/


impugn (third-person singular simple present impugns, present participle impugning, simple past and past participle impugned)

  1. (transitive, obsolete) To assault, attack.
  2. (transitive) To verbally assault, especially to argue against an opinion, motive, or action; to question the truth or validity of.


1859 1864 1872 1889 1922
ME « 15th c. 16th c. 17th c. 18th c. 19th c. 20th c. 21st c.
  • 1859John Stuart Mill, On Liberty
    Let the opinions impugned be the belief in a God and in a future state, or any of the commonly received doctrines of morality.
  • 1864Abraham Lincoln, Fourth State of the Union Address
    There have been much impugning of motives and much heated controversy as to the proper means and best mode of advancing the Union cause.
  • 1872Benjamin Disraeli, Conservative Principles
    At home, at a period of immense prosperity, with a people contented and naturally loyal, we find to our surprise the most extravagant doctrines professed and the fundamental principles of our most valuable institutions impugned, and that too by persons of some authority.
  • 1889Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, ch. xxv
    It is a hardy question, fair sir and Boss, since it doth go far to impugn the wisdom of even our holy Mother Church herself.
  • 1922Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Chessmen of Mars, ch. 21
    He is not dead. When he revives he will return to his quarters with a fine tale of his bravery and there will be none to impugn his boasts.



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