The Meaning of Impunity: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of impunity? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word impunity, including its definition, usage, word origin, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word impunity mean?

According to Definitions and the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, the word impunity is a noun that refers to an exemption from punishment or unpleasant consequences, de jure or de facto. Someone who has relative impunity is exempt from the injurious consequences of an action and free from retribution. This impossibility of  bringing the perpetrators of violations to account is used in the first principle of the international law of human rights, in which it refers to the failure of bringing perpetrators of human rights violations to justice and  itself constitutes a denial of the victims’ right to justice and redress. This is very common in countries that lack a tradition of rule of law, who may suffer from corruption, or which have entrenched systems of patronage. This can also occur in places where the judiciary is weak or members of the security forces may be protected by special jurisdictions or immunities. Impunity is four syllables – im-pu-ni-ty, and the pronunciation of impunity is ɪmˈpyu nɪ ti.

Many different languages also contain words that mean impunity. You may notice that some of these words look and sound similar to the word impunity. These are called cognates, which are words and phrases in different languages that look and sound similar and also mean similar things. These are often formed when two words have the same root or language of origin. Below are translations of impunity, provided by Word Sense.

  •  German: Straflosigkeit‎ (neut.)
  •  Serbo-Croatian: nekažnjenost‎ (fem.), nekažnjivost‎ (fem.)
  •  Macedonian: неказнетост‎
  •  Finnish: koskemattomuus‎
  •  French: impunité‎ (fem.)
  •  Japanese: 刑事免責‎ (けいじめんせき, keiji menseki)
  •  Portuguese: impunidade‎ (fem.)
  •  Interlingue: impunitá‎
  •  Turkish: cezasızlık‎
  •  Spanish: impunidad‎ (fem.)
  •  Mandarin: 不受懲罰性‎, 不受惩罚性‎ (bú shòu chéngfá xìng)
  •  Scottish Gaelic: saorsa o pheanas‎ (fem.)
  •  Hungarian: büntetlenség‎
  •  Russian: освобожде́ние от наказа́ния‎, импью́нити‎ (neut.) (indeclinable, neologism)

What is the origin of the word impunity?

According to Etymonline, the word impunity has been used since c16 and comes from the French impunité, the Latin poena punishment, Latin impunis/impūnis/impūne and Latin impūnitās/Latin impunitas freedom. These come from the Greek poinē and the Latin suffix itās, as well as the root kwei in Indo-European roots.

What are synonyms and antonyms of the word impunity?

There are many different words that a person can use in place of the word impunity. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same definition as another word or phrase. Learning synonyms is a great way to expand your vocabulary and avoid repeating yourself. This list of synonyms for the word impunity is provided by Power Thesaurus.

  •  exculpation
  •  compassion
  •  certification
  •  diplomatic immunity
  •  semcs
  •  license
  •  retreat
  •  charity
  •  nonliability
  •  insusceptibility
  •  political independence
  •  privilege
  •  diplomatic
  •  endorsement
  •  justice
  •  remission
  •  hairbreadth
  •  forgiveness
  •  ex abundanti cautela
  •  punishments
  •  special treatment
  •  insurance
  •  stay of execution
  •  resistance
  •  immunities
  •  qesas
  •  flight
  •  freedom from punishment
  •  exception
  •  exemption from punishment
  •  lenity
  •  freedom
  •  culprits
  •  freedoms
  •  permission
  •  narrow
  •  indemnity
  •  franchise
  •  parole
  •  redemption
  •  exclusion
  •  assurance
  •  emancipation
  •  liberty
  •  surety
  •  invulnerability
  •  extenuation
  •  excuse
  •  immunity
  •  release
  •  vigilante
  •  exoneration
  •  right
  •  caregivers
  •  narrow escape
  •  pardon
  •  responsible
  •  grace
  •  protection
  •  prerogative
  •  charter
  •  inviolability
  •  freedom from liability
  •  justification
  •  leaders
  •  punishment
  •  acquittal
  •  bagmen
  •  avolation
  •  dispensation
  •  phenom
  •  salvation
  •  decriminalisation
  •  liberation
  •  perpetrators
  •  evasion
  •  lenience
  •  clemency
  •  come off
  •  amnesty
  •  guarantee
  •  security
  •  avoidance
  •  elopement
  •  condonation
  •  discharge
  •  mercy
  •  rescue
  •  stay
  •  legal exemption
  •  safety
  •  immune
  •  relief
  •  reprieve
  •  exemption
  •  absolution
  •  deliverance
  •  munity
  •  makers
  •  offenders

There are also numerous different words that have the opposite meaning of the word impunity. These opposite words are called antonyms. Learning antonyms is another great, easy way to expand your English language vocabulary. This list of antonyms for the word impunity is also provided by Power Thesaurus.

  •  correction
  •  difficulty
  •  what comes around goes around
  •  answerability
  •  hoist with your own petard
  •  defect
  •  care
  •  fault
  •  blemish
  •  burden
  •  quarantine
  •  commitment
  •  distress
  •  delivery
  •  assignment
  •  custody
  •  faith
  •  chastisement
  •  accountability
  •  drawback
  •  exposure
  •  engagement
  •  arrears
  •  expense
  •  encumbrance
  •  business
  •  deficiency
  •  debenture
  •  endangerment
  •  discipline
  •  castigation
  •  committal
  •  error
  •  accountableness
  •  liability
  •  debt
  •  denial
  •  avenged sevenfold
  •  culpability
  •  duty
  •  bonding

How can the word impunity be used in a sentence?

The word impunity can be used in many different ways in the English language. Using words in a sentence is a great way to familiarize yourself with their definition. You can also create flashcards or quizzes to test your knowledge. Below are many examples of the impunity adjective to get your started!

He went on to have a successful career due to his impunity from early mistakes. This corruption led to his success, but others’ failure.

In February, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights amended the Set of Principles for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights Through Action to Combat Impunity in order to hold perpetrators accountable.

The truth commissions emerged from periods that were marked by human rights violations such as coups d’état, military dictatorships, and civil wars, but they were criticized for perpetuating impunity by enabling violators to seek protection of concurrently adopted amnesty laws despite their ability to assist in the ultimate prosecution of crimes, such attacks and the punishment of the guilty.

His old friends from Princeton University received complete impunity from such consequences during the disciplinary proceedings, but were advised to heed the warning and make reparations. 

Overall, the word impunity means exempt from punishment or consequences. This term is often used in a legal sense. Try using this new word of the day in a sentence today! That is a great way to memorize its definition. Have you ever received impunity?


  1. What does impunity mean? | Definitions 
  2. impunity: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  3. Impunity synonyms – 118 Words and Phrases for Impunity | Power Thesaurus 
  4. Impunity antonyms – 41 Opposites of Impunity | Power Thesaurus 
  5. impunity | Origin and meaning of impunity | Online Etymology Dictionary