verb (used with object)

  1. to accuse (a public official) before an appropriate tribunal of misconduct in office.
  2. Chiefly Law. to challenge the credibility of: to impeach a witness.
  3. to bring an accusation against.
  4. to call in question; cast an imputation upon: to impeach a person’s motives.
  5. to call to account.


  1. Obsolete. impeachment.

verb (tr)

  1. criminal law to bring a charge or accusation against
  2. British criminal law to accuse of a crime, esp of treason or some other offence against the state
  3. mainly US to charge (a public official) with an offence committed in office
  4. to challenge or question (a person’s honesty, integrity, etc)

late 14c., “to impede, hinder, prevent,” from Anglo-French empecher, Old French empeechier “hinder” (12c., Modern French empĂȘcher), from Late Latin impedicare “to fetter, catch, entangle,” from assimilated form of in- “into, in” (see in- (2)) + Latin pedica “shackle,” from pes (genitive pedis) “foot.” Sense of “accuse a public officer of misconduct” first recorded 1560s, perhaps via confusion with Latin impetere “attack, accuse.” Related: Impeached; impeaching.

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