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From Middle French impunité, from Latin impunitas, from impunis (without punishment).



impunity (countable and uncountable, plural impunities)

  1. (countable, law) Exemption from punishment.
  2. (uncountable) Freedom from punishment or retribution; security from any reprisal or injurious consequences of an action, behaviour etc.
    • 1776, Edward Gibbon, chapter IV, in The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, volume I, London: [] W[illiam] Strahan; and T[homas] Cadell, [], →OCLC, page 91:
      Maternus, a private ſoldier, of a daring boldneſs above his ſtation, [] plundered with impunity the rich and defenceleſs cities of Gaul and Spain.
    • 1846, Edgar Allan Poe, The Cask of Amontillado:
      I must not only punish but punish with impunity. A wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes its redresser.
    • 1994, Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom, Abacus, published 2010, page 495:
      The remoteness of the prison made the authorities feel they could ignore us with impunity.
    • 2021 March 10, Greg Morse, “Telling the railway's story on film”, in RAIL, number 926, pages 44–45:
      [...] and the rebuilding of Birmingham New Street with its Taurus Bar ("where one for the road - the railroad - can be taken with impunity").
    • 2022 August 30, Donald Kirk, “Could China invade South Korea after Taiwan?”, in The Hill[1], archived from the original on 30 August 2022[2]:
      If Russia’s President Vladimir Putin could order his troops into his neighbor with impunity, surely China’s President Xi Jinping might finally decide to recover Taiwan, the island province that has remained staunchly independent ever since Mao Zedong’s Red Army finished his conquest of the mainland in 1949.
    • For more quotations using this term, see Citations:impunity.

Related terms[edit]