na·​ive | \ nä-ˈēv How to pronounce naive (audio) , 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
b : produced by or as if by a self-taught artist naive murals

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web Although what impact this will have on the efficacy of the vaccine is still unknown, there were hints in the study that participants with preexisting immunity did not respond as well as those whose immune systems seemed naive to Ad5. Roxanne Khamsi, Wired, "Covid-19 Vaccines Could End Up With Bias Built Right In," 22 Sep. 2020 That sells short how seductive Washington is as a bad cop who becomes an even worse one as his influence extends to his naive partner. Chris Hewitt, Star Tribune, "Watch the best of influential actor/filmmaker Denzel Washington," 16 Sep. 2020 These things get passed around via emails from one gullible and naive nitwit to the next. Tom Margenau, Dallas News, "Setting the record straight: Internet lies about Social Security never go away," 13 Sep. 2020 Some fascinating evidence suggests that children start out with a pretty naive theory, thinking that learning a specific language (such as French instead of English) comes from biology, not environment. Katherine D. Kinzler, Scientific American, "Were French People Born to Speak French?," 6 Aug. 2020 Attorney Gail Hardy agreed to dismiss murder, rape and other charges against Lapointe, who – tiny, fragile and as naive as ever - appeared unfazed by his ordeal. Edmund H. Mahony,, "Coronavirus claims Richard Lapointe, who survived a quarter century in prison following a wrongful murder conviction," 4 Aug. 2020 The belief that public places far from protest routes could serve as safe spaces was exposed as a naive illusion. Timothy Mclaughlin, The Atlantic, "How History Gets Rewritten," 8 Sep. 2020 As if only the young and naive think radical change is possible. Michelle Santiago Cortés,, "Gen Z Isn’t Going To Save You, But We’ll Fight For A Better World With You," 31 Aug. 2020 The Ukrainians were never naive in their overtures to the Trump team. Simon Shuster, ProPublica, "Rick Perry’s Ukrainian Dream," 23 Oct. 2019

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.

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First Known Use of naive

1614, 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

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Time Traveler for naive

Time Traveler

The first known use of naive was in 1614

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Statistics for naive

Last Updated

26 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Naive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for naive


How to pronounce naive (audio)

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 How to pronounce naïve (audio) \
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

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