Ask Difference

Impugn vs. Impute — What's the Difference?

By Maham Liaqat & Fiza Rafique — Updated on April 26, 2024
Impugn involves challenging or disputing the truth or validity of something, whereas impute means attributing an action or quality to someone, often implying blame or responsibility.
Impugn vs. Impute — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Impugn and Impute


Key Differences

Impugn is primarily used to express doubt or criticism about the validity or integrity of something, suggesting a questioning or disputing stance. On the other hand, impute typically involves assigning responsibility or blame to a person or entity, often without direct proof.
When someone impugns a statement or a theory, they are essentially challenging its truthfulness or credibility. Conversely, to impute misconduct to someone is to attribute the misconduct to them, suggesting they are responsible for it, whether there's conclusive evidence or not.
Impugn can be seen in legal or formal debates where the reliability of evidence or arguments is under scrutiny. Whereas impute is often used in contexts involving moral and legal accountability, like in financial or criminal allegations.
In discussions, impugning may serve as a strategy to undermine opponents’ positions or claims by casting doubt on their assertions. On the other hand, imputing motives or actions to someone can be a tactic in argumentation that shifts the focus to the character or intentions of a person.
Impugn and impute both carry negative connotations but affect reputations differently; impugning questions credibility, while imputing assigns blame, potentially leading to moral or legal consequences.

Comparison Chart


To dispute the truth or validity of something.
To attribute something, especially fault, to someone.

Usage in Sentences

Often used in debates and critical discussions.
Commonly used in legal and moral contexts.


Negative, suggesting doubt or denial.
Negative, often implying blame or responsibility.


Challenges credibility or validity.
Assigns blame or responsibility, often without proof.

Example Context

Legal arguments, academic debates.
Legal charges, moral judgments.

Compare with Definitions


To challenge the accuracy or honesty of something.
The lawyer impugned the witness's testimony as unreliable.


To assign a characteristic to a group or individual.
They imputed great wisdom to the elderly.


To cast doubt on someone's integrity.
The article impugned the senator's motives.


To infer something about someone based on available evidence.
The jury imputed malicious intent from his actions.


To criticize something as false or untenable.
She impugned the argument as fundamentally flawed.


To attribute responsibility or blame to someone.
The crime was imputed to the wrong person.


To question the validity of a claim.
Critics impugn the theory as lacking empirical support.


To ascribe a quality or action to a person indirectly.
His silence was imputed as agreement.


To dispute the truth of a statement.
He impugned the historical account as biased.


To charge someone with an act, usually a misdeed.
The company's failures were imputed to the CEO.


Dispute the truth, validity, or honesty of (a statement or motive); call into question
The father does not impugn her capacity as a good mother


Represent (something, especially something undesirable) as being done or possessed by someone; attribute
The crimes imputed to Richard


To attack as false or questionable; challenge in argument
Impugn a political opponent's record.


Assign (a value) to something by inference from the value of the products or processes to which it contributes
By imputing the interest rates they potentially introduce a measurement error


To assault, attack.


To relate (something, usually something bad) to a particular cause or source; place the fault or responsibility for
Imputed the rocket failure to a faulty gasket.
Kindly imputed my clumsiness to inexperience.


(transitive) To verbally assault, especially to argue against an opinion, motive, or action; to question the truth or validity of.


To assign as a characteristic; credit
The gracefulness so often imputed to cats.


To attack by words or arguments; to contradict; to assail; to call in question; to make insinuations against; to gainsay; to oppose; as, to impugn a person's integrity.
The truth hereof I will not rashly impugn, or overboldly affirm.


(transitive) To attribute or ascribe (responsibility or fault) to a cause or source.
The teacher imputed the student's failure to his nervousness.


Attack as false or wrong


To ascribe (sin or righteousness) to someone by substitution.


(transitive) To take into account.


(transitive) To attribute or credit to.
People impute great cleverness to cats.


To replace missing data with substituted values.


To charge; to ascribe; to attribute; to set to the account of; to charge to one as the author, responsible originator, or possessor; - generally in a bad sense.
Nor you, ye proud, impute to these the fault,If memory o'er their tomb no trophies raise.
One vice of a darker shade was imputed to him - envy.


To adjudge as one's own (the sin or righteousness) of another; as, the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us.
It was imputed to him for righteousness.
They meritImputed shall absolve them who renounceTheir own, both righteous and unrighteous deeds.


To take account of; to consider; to regard.
If we impute this last humiliation as the cause of his death.


Attribute or credit to;
We attributed this quotation to Shakespeare
People impute great cleverness to cats


Attribute (responsibility or fault) to a cause or source;
The teacher imputed the student's failure to his nervousness

Common Curiosities

What is a common situation where someone might impugn another's argument?

In a debate or legal setting, one might impugn another's argument to challenge its validity and sway the opinion of an audience or jury.

Can impute have a positive connotation in any context?

Yes, impute can have a positive connotation when attributing positive qualities or achievements to someone, though this usage is less common.

What might be a consequence of wrongly imputing someone?

Wrongly imputing someone can lead to reputational damage, legal consequences, or personal distress for the individual incorrectly held responsible.

How can impugning be justified in a professional setting?

In professional settings, impugning can be justified when it's necessary to critically evaluate the reliability and integrity of data, research findings, or business decisions to ensure standards are met.

Are there ethical considerations in using the term impute?

Yes, ethically, one should be cautious when using the term impute, as it involves assigning qualities or actions to others which could impact their reputation or legal standing without definitive proof.

Is there a difference between imputing guilt and assigning blame?

Imputing guilt specifically refers to attributing legal responsibility for wrongdoing, whereas assigning blame can be more general and not necessarily legal in nature.

Does impugning require evidence?

Impugning often does not require solid evidence but is based on casting doubt or skepticism, which can be subjective and based on perceived inconsistencies or improbabilities.

What skills are necessary to effectively impugn an argument without offending?

Effective communication, critical thinking, and diplomacy are crucial to impugn an argument constructively without causing offense.

Can impute be neutral?

Theoretically, impute can be neutral if it simply involves attributing characteristics or actions without any positive or negative judgment, but in practice, it often carries a connotative weight.

Can impugn be related to personal attacks?

Yes, impugning can sometimes cross into personal attacks if it involves casting doubt on someone’s character or integrity rather than just their statements or ideas.

How does the public perception of impugning and imputing differ?

Public perception may view impugning as a form of skepticism or criticism, while imputing is often seen as accusing or attributing blame, affecting how both actions are received socially.

How do the legal implications of impute affect courtroom proceedings?

In courtroom proceedings, imputing crimes or intentions plays a critical role in shaping the charges, defense strategies, and outcomes based on the attribution of actions and motives to defendants.

What are the implications of frequently impugning others in a community or workplace?

Frequent impugning can lead to a toxic atmosphere, eroding trust and cooperation among members of a community or workplace.

What precautions should be taken when imputing characteristics to individuals in reports or articles?

It is important to ensure accuracy, rely on credible sources, and maintain fairness to avoid misrepresentation and potential legal issues when imputing characteristics in written materials.

Can impute be used in financial contexts?

Yes, impute is often used in finance to attribute income or assets to a person or entity for tax purposes, which affects tax liabilities and compliance.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Maham Liaqat
Co-written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.

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