noun na·ïve·té \ nä-ˌēv-ˈtā , -ˌē-və- ; nä-ˈēv-ˌtā , -ˈē-və- ; nī- \
variants: or less commonly naivete or naiveté
|Updated on: 16 Jul 2018

Definition of naïveté

1 : a naive remark or action
  • The farce is noted for its ridiculous acts and naïvetés.
2 : the quality or state of being naive
  • His account sometimes displays a gee-whiz naiveté
  • —Gregory McNamee

Examples of naïveté in a Sentence

  1. her naïveté led her to leave her new car unlocked while she shopped at the mall

  2. though he was streetwise, the investigative reporter regularly assumed an air of naïveté when he was interviewing confidence men, charlatans, counterfeiters, and other assorted swindlers of the general public

  3. That’s the takeaway from Patrick Tyler’s ambitious new history, “A World of Trouble: The White House and the Middle East—From the Cold War to the War on Terror” (Farrar, Straus and Girous. 628 pages. $30). The bottom line, according to Tyler: “After nearly six decades of escalating American involvement in the Middle East, it remains nearly impossible to discern any overarching approach to the region such as the one that guided U.S. policy through the Cold War.” Still, starry-eyed naiveté is no way to solve one of the world’s most intractable conflicts. Martin Indyk’s nuanced new memoir of his tenure as a Clinton-era peace negotiator, “Innocent Abroad: An Intimate Account of American Peace diplomacy in the Middle East” (494 pages. Simone & Schuster. $30), demonstrated how hard the balancing act can be. —“How We got to This Point” P. 34, Kevin Peraino, NEWSWEEK Vol. CLIII No. 2, January 12, 2009

  4. Student protesters may not have been “an effete corps of impudent snobs who consider themselves intellectual,” as Agnew famously said (and William Safire less famously wrote), but the movement was fueled in part by what DeGroot describes as “the high-octane naiveté of self-important young people who have just discovered ‘eternal truths.’” —“The Long Goodbye” P. 84, Arthur Krystal, HARPER’S MAGAZINE Vol. 317 No. 1901, October 2008

  5. Was this a serious foreign policy proposal or simply a campaign counterpunch? Hillary Clinton had already held up this idea as evidence of Mr. Obama’s naiveté. Wasn’t he just pushing back, displaying his commitment to “diplomacy”—now the most glamorous word in the Democratic “antiwar” lexicon? —“Opinion” P. A21, Shelby Steele, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, November 26, 2007

  6. But Congress may be the last bastion of sports naiveté; one by one the representatives revealed themselves to be gushing, dewy-eyed fans. —“The Liars Club” P. 113, S. L. Price, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED Vol. 103 No. 25, December 26, 2005 – January 2, 2006

  7. His writings over the years show a progression from considerable naiveté about science and the trustworthiness of eyewitnesses to a sophisticated understanding of science’s necessary conservatism and the proper role of anomalist researchers. —“Chapter 7” P. 211, SCIENCE OR PSEUDOSCIENCE, Henry H. Bauer, University of Illinois Press 133 B32s © 2001

Recent Examples of naïveté from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'naïveté.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of naïveté

French naïveté, from Old French, inborn character, from naif

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to beat or defeat soundly

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