naive

adjective

na·​ive nä-ˈēv How to pronounce naive (audio)
nī-
variants or naïve
naiver; naivest
1
: marked by unaffected simplicity : artless, ingenuous
"Coat!" said Russelton, with an appearance of the most naive surprise …; "coat, Sir Willoughby! do you call this thing a coat?"Edward Bulwer-Lytton
2
a
: deficient in worldly wisdom or informed judgment
their naive ignorance of life … when they were first marriedArnold 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
3
b
: produced by or as if by a self-taught artist
naive murals
naively adverb
or naïvely
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

Example Sentences

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 The belief that a border visit would change his approach was naive. William Mcgurn, WSJ, 9 Jan. 2023 In this flurry of success, Tolokonnikova isn’t naive to the potential pitfalls of crypto. Kurt Mcvey, Rolling Stone, 3 Jan. 2023 The first is that the administration is naive to Iran’s ambitions in the region. Dmitriy Shapiro, Sun Sentinel, 30 Aug. 2022 Few people remain immunologically naive to the virus. Joel Achenbach, BostonGlobe.com, 10 July 2022 Few people remain immunologically naive to the virus. Joel Achenbach, Anchorage Daily News, 10 July 2022 The result was unexpected, but not because the researchers were naive to colonialism’s legacy. Kate Golembiewski, Discover Magazine, 2 Feb. 2022 ChazelleHe comes off willfully naive about the power dynamics that make classic Hollywood so problematic by contemporary standards. Peter Debruge, Variety, 16 Dec. 2022 Some Freedom Caucus members laugh off such assertions as naive. Los Angeles Times, 7 Dec. 2022 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

1614, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of naive was in 1614

Dictionary Entries Near naive

Cite this Entry

“Naive.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/naive. Accessed 2 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition

naive

adjective
na·​ive
variants or naïve
naiver; naivest
1
: marked by honest simplicity : artless
2
: showing lack of experience or knowledge : credulous
naively adverb

Medical Definition

naive

adjective
na·​ive
variants or naïve
naiver; naivest
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

More from Merriam-Webster on naive

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