in·​ge·​nue | \ ˈan-jə-ˌnü How to pronounce ingenue (audio) , ˈän-; ˈaⁿ-zhə-, ˈäⁿ- \
variants: or ingénue

Definition of ingenue

1 : a naive girl or young woman
2 : the stage role of an ingenue also : an actress playing such a role

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Did You Know?

Although Becky Sharp, the ambitious heroine of William Makepeace Thackeray's 1848 novel Vanity Fair, is not usually thought of as innocent or naïve, the first recorded use of "ingenue" in English does refer to her. Thackeray's use was attributive: "When attacked sometimes, Becky had a knack of adopting a demure ingenue air, under which she was most dangerous." The word ingenue typically refers to someone who is innocent to the ways of the world, so you probably won't be too surprised to learn that it shares an ancestor, Latin ingenuus, with "ingenuous," a word meaning "showing innocent or childlike simplicity and candidness." More directly, our "ingenue" comes from French ingénue, the feminine form of ingénu, meaning "ingenuous."

Examples of ingenue in a Sentence

In her latest film she plays the part of an ingenue.
Recent Examples on the Web Still, the archetype Viard portrayed was not the wanton woman, nor the ingenue. Barry Samaha, Harper's BAZAAR, "Chanel Creates Movie Magic with Its Spring 2021 Collection," 6 Oct. 2020 You were almost immediately pegged as this quirky ingenue. Anne Cohen,, "Whatever Happened To Shannyn Sossamon, Star Of A Knight’s Tale? Let Her Tell You," 10 Sep. 2020 When Ross landed Black-ish, a department head mistook her for an ingenue. Shirley Li, The Atlantic, "Tracee Ellis Ross Felt Lost in Hollywood. Then She Changed Course.," 30 Aug. 2020 There’s the uneasy dynamic between the two performers, fractious grande dame Fabienne (Catherine Deneuve) and Manon (Manon Clavel), the rising ingenue who reminds her of a long-dead rival. Lidija Haas, The New Republic, "Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Ingenious Families," 2 July 2020 But de Havilland was a star long before and after Gone With the Wind, an actress capable of portraying everything from starry-eyed ingenue to steely spinster. Maureen Lee Lenker,, "9 Olivia de Havilland movies to watch for her 104th birthday that aren’t ‘Gone with the Wind’," 1 July 2020 Lady Gaga starred alongside Cooper in the fourth remake of A Star is Born last year, playing a musical ingenue mentored by a fading rock star. Borys Kit, The Hollywood Reporter, "Lady Gaga, Ridley Scott Team for Movie on Gucci Grandson Murder," 1 Nov. 2019 Lady Gaga starred alongside Cooper in the fourth remake of A Star is Born last year, playing a musical ingenue mentored by a fading rock star. Borys Kit, Billboard, "Lady Gaga to Star in Movie About Gucci Grandson's Murder," 1 Nov. 2019 The result has been a pullback by venture capital firms that once showered start-up dollars on the likes of BuzzFeed, Vice, Vox, Business Insider and other digi-news ingenues. Paul Farhi, Washington Post, "Top editors leave HuffPost and BuzzFeed amid growing doubts about the future of digital news," 12 Mar. 2020

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

1839, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for ingenue

French ingénue, feminine of ingénu ingenuous, from Latin ingenuus

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Time Traveler for ingenue

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The first known use of ingenue was in 1839

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Last Updated

20 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Ingenue.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 Oct. 2020.

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How to pronounce ingenue (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of ingenue

: an innocent girl or young woman

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