innocent (adj.)

mid-14c., "doing no evil; free from sin, guilt, or moral wrong," from Old French inocent "harmless; not guilty; pure" (12c.), from Latin innocentem (nominative innocens) "not guilty, blameless; harmless; disinterested," from in- "not" (see in- (1)) + nocentem (nominative nocens), present participle of nocere "to harm," from *nok-s-, suffixed form of PIE root *nek- (1) "death."

Meaning "free from guilt of a specific crime or charge" is from late 14c., as is the meaning "with childlike simplicity or artlessness." Humorous sense "free, devoid of" is from 1706. The noun meaning "person who is innocent of sin or evil, artless or simple person" is from c. 1200, especially a young child (who presumably has not yet sinned actively). The Holy Innocents (early 14c.) were the young children slain by Herod after the birth of Jesus (Matthew ii.16), hence Innocents day (Dec. 28).

Indo-European words for "innocent" are generally negative compound of the word for "guilty." An exception is the Germanic group represented by Gothic swikns (also "pure, chaste"), Old Norse sykn "free from guilt, innocent" (especially as a law term), Old English swicn "clearance from a charge," also "cleansing," but these are of uncertain origin.

updated on June 05, 2019

Definitions of innocent from WordNet
innocent (adj.)
not knowledgeable about something specified;
American tourists wholly innocent of French
Synonyms: unacquainted
innocent (adj.)
free from evil or guilt;
the principle that one is innocent until proved guilty
an innocent child
Synonyms: guiltless / clean-handed
innocent (adj.)
lacking intent or capacity to injure;
an innocent prank
Synonyms: innocuous
innocent (adj.)
free from sin;
Synonyms: impeccant / sinless
innocent (adj.)
lacking in sophistication or worldliness;
a child's innocent stare
Synonyms: ingenuous
innocent (adj.)
completely wanting or lacking;
innocent of literary merit
Synonyms: barren / destitute / devoid / free
innocent (adj.)
(used of things) lacking sense or awareness;
fine innocent weather
innocent (n.)
a person who lacks knowledge of evil;
Synonyms: inexperienced person
Etymologies are not definitions. From, not affiliated with etymonline.