ingenue

noun
in·​ge·​nue | \ˈan-jə-ˌnü, 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

Keep scrolling for more

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

The company’s latest ad (below) features 20-year-old ingenue Elle Fanning and rapper A$AP Ferg. Kara Thompson, Town & Country, "Tiffany & Co. Will Now Let You Personalize With Custom Symbols and Monograms," 29 June 2018 In Venezuela, one man has ruled as king in transforming fledgling ingenues into flawless beauty queens: Osmel Sousa. Washington Post, "In embattled Venezuela, beauty offers ladder out of poverty," 6 July 2018 That sort of social network remains vital to the world's purveyors of pearls, as well as mansions—as does a new generation of clients, a powerful group that includes numerous ingenues and princesses-to-be. Stellene Volandes, Town & Country, "Was the Cartier Mansion the Real Estate Deal of the Century?," 6 Sep. 2016 These aren't the shrinking violets or breathless ingenues. Dana Oland, idahostatesman, "Pack your picnic basket: Idaho Shakespeare Festival brings Stephen King, ABBA and more | Idaho Statesman," 23 May 2018 Liz is blessed with the kind of Broadway-pure soprano that every budding ingenue dreams of having. Randy Cordova, azcentral, "Ann Hampton Callaway, Liz Callaway offer fans a musical cult classic in 'Sibling Revelry'," 11 May 2018 Co-starring Cher, Burlesque cast Aguilera as a starry-eyed ingenue turned burlesque performer, in a story intended to parallel her real-life music career. Richard S. He, Billboard, "20 Years of Xtina: How She Found, Lost and Liberated Her Voice Again," 4 May 2018 The producer allegedly invited a young ingenue to his hotel room and tried to persuade her into massages or showering. refinery29.com, "Ashley Judd Was a #MeToo Heroine Years Before the Movement Began: A Timeline," 2 May 2018 The image of former teen ingenue Miley Cyrus twerking on the much-older, then-married singer is forever burned into our psyches, cementing a place in pop culture’s most WTF moments of the decade. J'na Jefferson, Billboard, "The Murky Legacy of Robin Thicke's 'Blurred Lines' Five Years Later: Op-Ed," 26 Mar. 2018

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about ingenue

Listen to Our Podcast about ingenue

Dictionary Entries near ingenue

ingeniosity

ingenious

ingenital

ingenue

ingenuity

ingenuous

ingeny

Statistics for ingenue

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ingenue

The first known use of ingenue was in 1839

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for ingenue

ingenue

noun

English Language Learners Definition of ingenue

: an innocent girl or young woman

More from Merriam-Webster on ingenue

See words that rhyme with ingenue

Spanish Central: Translation of ingenue

Comments on ingenue

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to express warning or disapproval

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Autumn Words of the Day 2018

  • a-top-down-image-of-road-through-an-autumn-forest
  • Which is a synonym of fugacious?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!