dis·​in·​gen·​u·​ous | \ ˌdis-in-ˈjen-yə-wəs How to pronounce disingenuous (audio) , -yü-əs \

Definition of disingenuous

: lacking in candor also : giving a false appearance of simple frankness : calculating

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Other Words from disingenuous

disingenuously adverb
disingenuousness noun

Disingenuous Has a Roman History

Ingenous has its roots in the slave-holding society of ancient Rome. Its ancestor ingenuus is a Latin adjective meaning "native" or "freeborn" (itself from gignere, meaning "to beget"). Ingenuus begot the English adjective ingenuous. That adjective originally meant "freeborn" (as in "ingenuous Roman subjects") or "noble and honorable," but it eventually came to mean "showing childlike innocence" or "lacking guile." In the mid-17th century, English speakers combined the negative prefix dis- with ingenuous to create disingenuous, meaning "guileful" or "deceitful."

Examples of disingenuous in a Sentence

"It's had nine murders since 1937—about the same as you would get in many small towns." This was correct, but a wee disingenuous. The AT [Appalachian Trail] had no murders in its first thirty-six years and nine in the past twenty-two. — Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods, 1999 … and he egged Badger on, asking a disingenuous question about the antivivisection rally in Cleveland, and as Badger took the thought up and chewed it over, the Doctor made as if to excuse himself. — T. Coraghessan Boyle, The Road to Wellville, 1993 … he has a disingenuous way of resorting to slang when he wants to make a big point but is afraid of sounding pretentious. — Karen Schoemer, New York Times Book Review, 31 Oct. 1993 Unity is at best an ideal, at worst a disingenuous political slogan. — Salman Rushdie, The Independent on Sunday, 25 Nov. 1990 Her recent expressions of concern are self-serving and disingenuous.
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Recent Examples on the Web All that trauma-sharing gives way to a pat and slightly disingenuous revelation about healing. Namwali Serpell, The New York Review of Books, "In the Time of Monsters," 24 Mar. 2020 Jenkins suggests that this was disingenuous, and that old Charles had reasons for harrumphing away what young Charles may have absorbed in Edinburgh. David Quammen, The New York Review of Books, "The Brilliant Plodder," 8 Apr. 2020 The most recent trailer (embedded above) has been recut to hint that The Hunt isn't really about rich liberals literally killing conservative folks, but that's disingenuous. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Review: The Hunt is every bit as bad and offensive as we suspected," 14 Mar. 2020 Many of the activists criticizing Montana and Wyoming’s lawsuit are either ignorant or disingenuous. Los Angeles Times, "Coal states sue California cities and Washington state to force ports to ship exports," 26 Feb. 2020 Joe DiLaura, Erie This editorial is either disingenuous or naive. Dp Opinion, The Denver Post, "Letters: Rep. Ken Buck’s job with the impeachment hearings (12/17/19)," 17 Dec. 2019 Naturally, this creates the temptation to present applications that are weak or even disingenuous. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, "Ball of Collusion and FISA Reform," 14 Dec. 2019 Richard Painter, a law professor at the University of Minnesota who served as the chief ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush, said Mosley’s efforts to distance himself from the company by ceding responsibility to his wife are disingenuous. R.g. Dunlop, ProPublica, "How These Jail Officials Profit From Selling E-Cigarettes to Inmates," 7 Feb. 2020 The Recording Academy’s efforts at portraying arbitration as a fair process for employees is disingenuous as everyone knows arbitration unfairly favors, protects, and insulates employers from their unlawful actions. Melinda Newman, Billboard, "Recording Academy Says Deborah Dugan Arbitration Can Play Out in Public," 4 Feb. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'disingenuous.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of disingenuous

1655, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of disingenuous was in 1655

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Last Updated

29 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Disingenuous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disingenuous. Accessed 6 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for disingenuous


How to pronounce disingenuous (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of disingenuous

formal : not truly honest or sincere : giving the false appearance of being honest or sincere

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