na·​ive | \nä-ˈēv, nī-\
variants: or naïve
naiver; naivest

Definition of naive 

1 : marked by unaffected simplicity : artless, ingenuous the experienced man speaks simply and wisely to the naive girl— Gilbert Highet

2a : deficient in worldly wisdom or informed judgment their naive ignorance of life … when they were first married— Arnold Bennett especially : credulous … tells tall tales of the West to tweak naïve city slickers. — Miriam Horn

b : not previously subjected to experimentation or a particular experimental situation made the test with naive rats also : not having previously used a particular drug (such as marijuana)

c : not having been exposed previously to an antigen naive T cells

3a : self-taught, primitive

b : produced by or as if by a self-taught artist naive murals

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from naive

naively or naïvely adverb
naiveness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for naive

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

Examples of naive in a Sentence

Secularism requires a commitment to civil liberty, which rests partly on respect for civil disobedience—peaceful acts of conscience that challenge rules of law. If civil libertarianism is naïve, then so is the hope of secular government. — Wendy Kaminer, Free Inquiry, December 2008/January 2009 He exhibits a naïve sort of confidence when talking about the doubts surrounding him and the perceived slights in the draft run-up. — Peter King, Sports Illustrated, 1 May 2006 His crimes were described as mere bumps in the road, minor offenses committed by a man-boy described as innocent, naïve, trusting, a simple country boy who got lost in airports and was astonished to find out that he could order a pizza over the phone. — Pat Jordan, Harper's, October 2004 a naive belief that all people are good a naive view of the world She asked a lot of naive questions. I was young and naive at the time, and I didn't think anything bad could happen to me. The plan seems a little naive. If you're naive enough to believe him, you'll believe anyone.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Trump critics call his approach to foreign policy inconsistent and naive, handing his rivals unintended victories by allowing his instincts to undermine his own administration's strategy. The Washington Post,, "Has North Korea already trumped the U.S. in the propaganda war?," 2 June 2018 Perhaps feeling protective of his little Baby Monster, and realizing just how young and naive Tess still is, Sasha tells her to return to her hometown., "Sweetbitter Episode 6: Careful What You Wish For," 11 June 2018 Neither man is naive about what the future may hold. Tom Hallman Jr.,, "One play, two men and a conversation about police and race: Tom Hallman," 18 Mar. 2018 Although few derided past presidents’ ultimately naive dreams of working with Putin, Trump’s professed identical goal is sending visible willies through Democrats and European allies alike. Andrew Malcolm,, "Will Trump stand up to Putin or fall for him?," 12 July 2018 Her lawyers sought to portray Zschaepe as naive woman who played no active role in the killings, bomb attacks and bank robberies committed by Mundlos and Boehnhardt. Fox News, "Courts finds suspect in neo-Nazi trial guilty of 10 killings," 11 July 2018 Brazil looked naive by comparison, as they were frequently exposed on the break - especially when Kevin de Bruyne scored the Red Devils' decisive second goal., "Belgium Manager 'Proudest Man on Earth' After Impressive World Cup Win Over Brazil," 7 July 2018 Kings have added Elk Grove naive Cody Demps (Pleasant Grove HS & Sac State), who played in G-League last year in Reno to Summer League squad. Noel Harris, sacbee, "As California Classic ends, 2 more local players will go with the Kings to Las Vegas," 5 July 2018 Even when the wheels of justice do turn, the slowness of the courts discourages all but the infinitely patient, naive or rich from resorting to them. The Economist, "From dusty villages to Delhi, Indians seek people to persecute," 5 July 2018

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

1654, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for naive

French naïve, feminine of naïf, from Old French, inborn, natural, from Latin nativus native

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about naive

Dictionary Entries near naive





naïve realism



Statistics for naive

Last Updated

4 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for naive

The first known use of naive was in 1654

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for naive



English Language Learners Definition of naive

: having or showing a lack of experience or knowledge : innocent or simple


variants: or naïve \ nä-​ˈēv \
naiver; naivest

Kids Definition of naive

1 : showing lack of experience or knowledge He asked a lot of naive questions.

2 : being simple and sincere

Other Words from naive

naively adverb


variants: or naïve \ nä-​ˈēv \
naiver; naivest

Medical Definition of naive 

1 : not previously subjected to experimentation or a particular experimental situation naive laboratory rats

2 : not having previously used a particular drug (as marijuana)

3 : not having been exposed previously to an antigen a naive immune system naive T cells

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on naive

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


obstinately defiant of authority

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?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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