French, literally "I accuse," a phrase made famous by Emile Zola in a public letter (published Jan. 13, 1898) attacking the irregularities of the Dreyfus trial.
1660s, "declare guilty of a crime;" 1670s, "censure, hold up to blame," from Latin criminatus, past participle of criminare "to accuse of a crime," from crimen (genitive criminis) "crime" (see crime). Related: Crimination (1580s).
"one who falsely and knowingly accuses another of anything disgraceful or maliciously propagates false reports," 1560s, from Latin calumniator, agent noun from calumniari "to accuse falsely" (see calumniate (v.)). Related: Calumniatory.
mid-14c., "a shame, a disgrace" (a sense now obsolete), also "a censure to one's face, a rebuke addressed to a person," from Old French reprove "reproach, rejection," verbal noun from reprover "to blame, accuse" (see reprove).
formerly also empeach, late 14c., empechen, "to impede, hinder, prevent;" early 15c., "cause to be stuck, run (a ship) aground," also "prevent (from doing something)," from Anglo-French empecher, Old French empeechier "to hinder, stop, impede; capture, trap, ensnare" (12c., Modern French empêcher), from Late Latin impedicare "to fetter, catch, entangle," from assimilated form of in- "into, in" (from PIE root *en "in") + Latin pedica "a shackle, fetter," from pes (genitive pedis) "foot" (from PIE root *ped- "foot").
In law, at first in a broad sense, "to accuse, bring charges against" from late 14c.; more specifically, of the king or the House of Commons, "to bring formal accusation of treason or other high crime against (someone)" from mid-15c. The sense of "accuse a public officer of misconduct" had emerged from this by 1560s. The sense shift is perhaps via Medieval Latin confusion of impedicare with Latin impetere "attack, accuse" (see impetus), which is from the Latin verb petere "aim for, rush at" (from PIE root *pet- "to rush, to fly").
The Middle English verb apechen, probably from an Anglo-French variant of the source of impeach, was used from early 14c. in the sense "to accuse (someone), to charge (someone with an offense)." Related: Impeached; impeaching.
formerly also endict, c. 1300, enditen, inditen, "bring formal charges against (someone); accuse of a crime," from Anglo-French enditer "accuse, indict, find chargeable with a criminal offense" (late 13c.), Old French enditier, enditer "to dictate, write, compose; (legally) indict," from Vulgar Latin *indictare "to declare, accuse, proclaim in writing," from in- "in" (from PIE root *en "in") + Latin dictare "to declare, dictate," frequentative of dicere "to say, speak" (from PIE root *deik- "to show," also "pronounce solemnly").
Retained its French pronunciation after the spelling was re-Latinized c. 1600. Later 14c. non-legal senses "write, compose (a poem, etc.); dictate" have gone with the older form, endite, indite (q.v.). The sense is perhaps partly confused with Latin indicare "to point out." In classical Latin, indictus meant "not said, unsaid" (from in- "not"). Related: Indictable; indicted; indicting.
formerly also endictment, c. 1300, endytement "action of accusing," from Anglo-French and Old French enditement, from enditer "accuse, indict" (see indict). Meaning "formal legal document containing a charge proved before a grand jury" is from c. 1500. Latin spelling restored 17c.
"to inform against, betray one's accomplices," 1560s (earlier pechen, "to accuse, indict, bring to trial," c. 1400), a shortening of appeach, empeach, obsolete variants of impeach. For form, compare peal (v.), also Middle English pelour "an accuser," from appellour. Related: Peached; peaching; peacher.
late 14c., depraven, "corrupt, lead astray, pervert," from Old French depraver "to pervert; accuse" (14c.) and directly from Latin depravare "distort, disfigure;" figuratively "to pervert, seduce, corrupt," from de- "completely" (see de-) + pravus "crooked," which is of unknown etymology. Related: Depraved; depraving.