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Bouguereau's L'Innocence: Both young children and lamb are symbols of innocence.

Innocence is a term used to indicate a general lack of guilt, with respect to any kind of crime, sin, or wrongdoing. In a legal context, innocence refers to the lack of legal guilt of an individual, with respect to a crime.

Innocence can also refer to a state of unknowing, where one's experience is lesser, in either a relative view to social peers, or by an absolute comparison to a more common normative scale. In contrast to ignorance, it is generally viewed as a positive term, connoting an optimistic view of the world, in particular one where the lack of knowledge stems from a lack of wrongdoing, whereas greater knowledge comes from doing wrong. This connotation may be connected with a popular false etymology explaining "innocent" as meaning "not knowing" (Latin noscere). The actual etymology is from general negation prefix in- and the Latin nocere, "evil" or "guilty".

People who lack the mental capacity to understand the nature of their acts may be regarded as innocent regardless of their behavior. From this meaning comes the term innocent to refer to a child under the age of reason, or a person, of any age, who is severely mentally disabled.

In some cases, the term of "innocence" connotes a pejorative meaning, where an assumed level of experience dictates common discourse or baseline qualifications for entry into another, different, social experience. Since experience is the prime factor in determining a person's point of view, innocence is often also used to imply an ignorance or lack of personal experience.

The lamb is a commonly used symbol of innocence. In Christianity, for example, Jesus is referred to as the "Lamb of God", thus emphasizing his sinless nature.[1] Other symbols of innocence include children, virgins, acacia branches (especially in Freemasonry),[2] non-sexual nudity, and the color white.[3]

A "loss of innocence" is a common theme in fiction and pop culture, and is often seen as an integral part of coming of age. It is usually thought of as an experience or period in a child's life that widens their awareness of evil, pain or the world around them. Examples of this theme include the novels To Kill a Mockingbird and Lord of the Flies.


  1. ^ Paton, Chalmers Izett (1873). Freemasonry: Its Symbolism, Religious Nature, and Law of Perfection. Reeves and Turner. pp. 232–240.  
  2. ^ The Numismatist. American Numismatic Association. 1901. pp. 177.  
  3. ^ The Encyclopedia Americana: A Library of Universal Knowledge. Encyclopedia Americana Corp.. 1918. pp. 329.  

1911 encyclopedia

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Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




Latin in-, nocere hurt



innocent (comparative more innocent, superlative most innocent)


more innocent

most innocent

  1. Pure; free from sin and immorality.
  2. Clean, untainted.
  3. Bearing no responsibility for a crime.
  4. Naive; artless.
  5. Harmless.



Related terms


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.




innocent (plural innocents)

  1. Those who are innocent; young children.
    The slaughter of the innocents was a significant event in the New Testament.




  1. innocent

Usage notes

"El dia dels innocents" (the day of innocents) is the 28th December, it's similar to 1st April

Related terms

  • innocència
  • innocentada




innocent m. (f. innocente, m. plural innocents, f. plural innocentes)

  1. innocent

Related terms

Simple English

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