- When a president is declared unfit for office because of his past actions, this is an example of when you impeach the president.
- When you call into question whether someone is acting with honest motives, this is an example of when you impeach his motives.
- to challenge or discredit (a person's honor, reputation, etc.)
- to formally charge (a public official) with malfeasance in office
- loosely to remove from office (a public official so charged)
Origin of impeachMiddle English empechen from Old French empechier, to hinder from Late Latin impedicare, to fetter, entangle from Classical Latin in-, in + pedica, a fetter from pes, foot
transitive verbim·peached, im·peach·ing, im·peach·es
- a. To make an accusation against: impeach someone of a crime.b. To bring formal charges against (a public official) for wrongdoing while in office.
- To raise doubts about; discredit or disparage: impeach a witness's credibility; impeach someone's character.
Origin of impeachMiddle English empechen to impede, accuse from Anglo-Norman empecher from Late Latin impedicāre to entangle Latin in- in ; see in- 2. Latin pedica fetter ; see ped- in Indo-European roots.
Usage Note: When an irate citizen demands that a disfavored public official be impeached, the citizen clearly intends for the official to be removed from office. This popular use of impeach as a synonym of “throw out” (even if by due process) does not accord with the legal meaning of the word. When a public official is impeached, that is, formally accused of wrongdoing, this is only the start of what can be a lengthy process that may or may not lead to the official's removal from office. In strict usage, an official is impeached (accused), tried, and then convicted or acquitted. The vaguer use of impeach reflects disgruntled citizens' indifference to whether the official is forced from office by legal means or chooses to resign to avoid further disgrace.
(third-person singular simple present impeaches, present participle impeaching, simple past and past participle impeached)
- To hinder, impede, or prevent.
- To bring a legal proceeding against a public official, asserting that because he or she committed some offense, he or she should be removed from office.
- To charge with impropriety; to discredit; to call into question.
- (law) To demonstrate in court that a testimony under oath contradicts another testimony from the same person, usually one taken during deposition.