in·​ge·​nious | \in-ˈjēn-yəs \

Definition of ingenious 

1 : having or showing an unusual aptitude for discovering, inventing, or contriving an ingenious detective

2 : marked by originality, resourcefulness, and cleverness in conception or execution an ingenious contraption

3 obsolete : showing or calling for intelligence, aptitude, or discernment

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Other Words from ingenious

ingeniously adverb
ingeniousness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for ingenious

clever, adroit, cunning, ingenious mean having or showing practical wit or skill in contriving. clever stresses physical or mental quickness, deftness, or great aptitude. a person clever with horses adroit often implies a skillful use of expedients to achieve one's purpose in spite of difficulties. an adroit negotiator cunning implies great skill in constructing or creating. a filmmaker cunning in his use of special effects ingenious suggests the power of inventing or discovering a new way of accomplishing something. an ingenious software engineer

Examples of ingenious in a Sentence

How many dog-size bathrobes (an ingenious device) are out there? — David Colman, Vogue, April 2001 … spacecraft engineers tried to come up with ways to "unstick" the antenna. Those attempts failed, but by ingenious software and mission-sequencing techniques … the Galileo mission was still able to fulfill nearly all of its scientific requirements and return a rich quantity of scientific data … — Louis Friedman et al., Encyclopedia of the Solar System, 1999 … an ingenious method of checking errors … — W. David Gardner, Datamation, June 1982 The book has an ingenious plot. She was ingenious at finding ways to work more quickly. It was ingenious of him to arrange the schedule so precisely.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Camila Mendes has found the most creative way ever to hide her zits on Instagram, and the method is totally ingenious. Zoë Weiner, Teen Vogue, "Camila Mendes Shared Her Creative Way to Hide Acne," 23 Oct. 2018 Every one of Anne’s flights of fancy finds a thrilling and ingenious visual representation. Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Book Review: Classics Illustrated," 16 Nov. 2018 Designed for a family with four children, the Postscript House is equal parts practical and ingenious. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Blocky concrete home hides an airy second level," 8 Nov. 2018 And just in case there are some people who haven’t yet registered to vote this November, an ingenious Twitter misdirect is doing its part to help change that. Dan Barna, Teen Vogue, "Fake Celebrity News Stories That Are Actually Voter Registration Links Are Popping Up on Social Media," 16 Oct. 2018 The designer revealed his ingenious sneak preview on Instagram Thursday night, keeping things simple with a photo of the duke and duchess of Sussex at the event. Emily Wang, Glamour, "This Designer Debuted His New Collection on Meghan Markle Instead of at Fashion Week," 7 Sep. 2018 Admired then for its refined culture, massive architecture, and ingenious complex of dams and water channels, Petra is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site that enchants visitors from all corners of the globe. Jim Berkeley, Town & Country, "How to Plan a Trip to Jordan," 5 Oct. 2016 Mr Ellison would unleash his indignant and ingenious fury on anyone who offended him, relishing every opportunity to rage at reactionaries and Republicans. The Economist, "Harlan Ellison died on June 27th," 5 July 2018 Negan even added a cruel but ingenious touch, sending some of his men to slaughter at the hands of the Alexandria/Hilltop/Kingdom survivors to make the phony plans seem more real. Bill Keveney, USA TODAY, "'The Walking Dead' recap: 'All-Out War' ends with Rick-Negan showdown," 15 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ingenious.' 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 ingenious

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for ingenious

Middle English ingenyous, from Middle French ingenieus, from Latin ingeniosus, from ingenium natural capacity — more at engine

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Last Updated

7 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for ingenious

The first known use of ingenious was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for ingenious



English Language Learners Definition of ingenious

: very smart or clever : having or showing ingenuity


in·​ge·​nious | \in-ˈjēn-yəs \

Kids Definition of ingenious

: showing ingenuity : clever an ingenious idea

Other Words from ingenious

ingeniously adverb

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Comments on ingenious

What made you want to look up ingenious? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a nest or breeding place

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