in·​ge·​nious | \ in-ˈjēn-yəs How to pronounce ingenious (audio) \

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

Is this restaurant doing something interesting or ingenious? Arizona Republic Food & Dining Team, azcentral, "We aren't getting rid of stars in restaurant reviews. But they're getting a major makeover," 9 July 2019 There would be no flamboyant or ingenious shortcuts. Lila Maclellan, Quartz at Work, "The surprising benefit of being bored at work," 1 July 2019 The substitute system that Stephenson blueprints is ingenious, complex and believable. Paul Di Filippo, Dallas News, "In Neal Stephenson's 'Fall,' there is life after death," 18 June 2019 The substitute system that Stephenson blueprints is ingenious, complex and believable. Paul Di Filippo, Washington Post, "In Neal Stephenson’s ‘Fall,’ there is life after death," 16 June 2019 Look for ingenious ways to put your plans in motion without overspending. Eugenia Last, The Mercury News, "Horoscopes: July 3, 2019," 3 July 2019 The rather ingenious latching system that allows the bag (and battery) to be easily inserted and removed from the bike just isn’t secure enough to keep the heavy combination from rattling about on uneven surfaces. Thomas Ricker, The Verge, "Brompton Electric bike review: remarkably practical," 2 July 2019 His descriptions of logging itself—the ingenious mechanics of taking down trees and the skill of experienced loggers—are wonderfully detailed, dramatic and exhilarating. Katherine A. Powers, WSJ, "‘Deep River’ Review: In the Heart of the Forest Primeval," 28 June 2019 Mazursky, directing his first picture, has done something very ingenious. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "What to Stream This Weekend: “Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice,” Through the Eyes of Pauline Kael," 21 June 2019

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

20 Jul 2019

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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 How to pronounce ingenious (audio) \

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).


something desired as essential

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