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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Examples of ingenue in a sentence
In her latest film she plays the part of an ingenue.
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."
Origin and Etymology of ingenue
French ingénue, feminine of ingénu ingenuous, from Latin ingenuus
First Known Use: 1848
INGENUE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of ingenue for English Language Learners
: an innocent girl or young woman
Seen and Heard
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