adjective (1)
in·​gen·​u·​ous | \ in-ˈjen-yə-wəs How to pronounce ingenuous (audio) , -yü-əs \

Definition of ingenuous

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : showing innocent or childlike simplicity and candidness her ingenuous thirst for experience— Christopher Rawson
b : lacking craft or subtlety ingenuous in their brutality
2 obsolete : noble, honorable


adjective (2)

Definition of ingenuous (Entry 2 of 2)


Other Words from ingenuous

Adjective (1)

ingenuously adverb
ingenuousness noun

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Adjective (1)

natural, ingenuous, naive, unsophisticated, artless mean free from pretension or calculation. natural implies lacking artificiality and self-consciousness and having a spontaneousness suggesting the natural rather than the man-made world. her unaffected, natural manner ingenuous implies inability to disguise or conceal one's feelings or intentions. the ingenuous enthusiasm of children naive suggests lack of worldly wisdom often connoting credulousness and unchecked innocence. politically naive unsophisticated implies a lack of experience and training necessary for social ease and adroitness. unsophisticated adolescents artless suggests a naturalness resulting from unawareness of the effect one is producing on others. artless charm

First Known Use of ingenuous

Adjective (1)

1588, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Adjective (2)

1588, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for ingenuous

Adjective (1)

Latin ingenuus native, freeborn, from in- + gignere to beget — more at kin

Adjective (2)

by alteration

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Time Traveler for ingenuous

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The first known use of ingenuous was in 1588

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Cite this Entry

“Ingenuous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for ingenuous


in·​gen·​u·​ous | \ in-ˈjen-yə-wəs How to pronounce ingenuous (audio) \

Kids Definition of ingenuous

: showing innocence and childlike honesty

Other Words from ingenuous

ingenuously adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on ingenuous

Nglish: Translation of ingenuous for Spanish Speakers


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