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From Middle English nocent (guilty), from Latin nocens, present participle of nocere (to harm)


nocent (comparative more nocent, superlative most nocent)

  1. (rare) Causing injury; harmful.
    • 1674, John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book 9, lines 180-187,[1]
      [] [Satan] held on
      His midnight search, where soonest he might finde
      The Serpent: him fast sleeping soon he found
      In Labyrinth of many a round self-rowld,
      His head the midst, well stor’d with suttle wiles:
      Not yet in horrid Shade or dismal Den,
      Nor nocent yet, but on the grassie Herbe
      Fearless unfeard he slept []
    • 1741, Isaac Watts, The Improvement of the Mind, Part I, Chapter 19, London: James Brackstone, pp. 313-314,[2]
      They consider the various known Effects of particular Herbs or Drugs, they meditate what will be the Effect of their Composition, and whether the Virtues of the one will exalt or diminish the Force of the other, or correct any of its nocent Qualities.
  2. (obsolete) guilty; not innocent
    • 1563, John Foxe, Acts and Monuments, London, 1641, “King John,” p. 330,[3]
      Nocent, not innocent he is, that seeketh to deface,
      By word the thing, that he by deed hat taught men to imbrace;
      Which being now a Bishop old, doth study to destroy
      The thing, which he a young man once did covet to injoy.
    • 1571, Richard Edwards, Damon and Pythias,
      He is not innocent, whom the kinge iudgeth nocent.



nocent (plural nocents)

  1. (obsolete) Guilty person.
    • 1649, Anthony Ascham, Of the Confusions and Revolutions of Goverments, Part 3, Chapter 4, p. 190,[4]
      [] there is no reason that the innocents and nocents sufferings should be alike, for then punishments would not be so effectuall to terrifie others, nor to give future security to innocence.
    • 1716, Thomas Browne, Christian Morals, 2nd edition edited by Samuel Johnson, London: J. Payne, 1756, Part I, p. 32,[5]
      [] no nocent is absolved by the verdict of himself.





  1. third-person plural present active indicative of noceō