What Is the Definition of "impeachment"?


Quick Answer

The noun "impeachment" means "a formal accusation or charge of maladministration against a public official." The U.S. Constitution states that the House of Representatives votes to impeach an official, but the Senate tries the case.

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Full Answer

The word "impeachment" entered Middle English in the 1300s as the word "empechement," which means "accusation" or "charge." It is similar to the Old French words "empeechement" and "empeechier," which mean "difficulty" or "hindrance." The origin dates back to the Late Latin word "impedicare," meaning "to restrain or shackle the feet." The sense of "impeachment" to mean "an accusation of misconduct by a public official" began in the 1640s.

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