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See also: ingénue


Alternative forms[edit]


Borrowed from French ingénue, the feminine form of ingénu (guileless), originally from the Latin ingenuus (ingenuous).



ingenue (plural ingenues)

  1. An innocent, unsophisticated, naïve, wholesome girl or young woman.
    • 2023 December 6, Sam Lansky, “Person of Year 2023 : Taylor Swift”, in Time[1]:
      She was seen as a gifted pop-country ingenue when, in a now infamous moment, Kanye West interrupted Swift onstage at the 2009 VMAs while she was accepting an award. The incident set in motion a chain of events that would shape the next decade of both artists’ lives.
  2. (theater, film) A dramatic role of such a woman; an actress playing such a role.
    Hypernym: stock character
    Coordinate terms: girl next door, femme fatale, damsel in distress
    • 2012, Thomas Lisanti, Hollywood Surf and Beach Movies: The First Wave, 1959-1969[2], McFarland, →ISBN, page 396:
      The intelligent and talented blonde who was fluent in English, French and Spanish was interested in art and joined a local theater group to work on set designs but wound up on stage playing an ingenue in Liliom and was spotted by director Vincente Minnelli.
  3. (rare) Misspelling of ingenu.
    • 1951 June 11, Harold L. Ickes, “Acheson, Political Ingenue”, in The New Republic, volume 124, number 24, page 17:
      Mr. Acheson's failure as Secretary of State ... has been an inability to understand people or to be understood by them.
    • 2002 Spring, Joshua David Gonsalves, “What Makes Lord Byron Go? Strong Determinations-Public/Private-of Imperial Errancy”, in Studies in Romanticism, volume 41, number 1, Psychoanalytic, page 40fn:
      I cannot resist citing, slightly out of context, another bit of Baudelaire: "Satan s'est fait ingénu" (Satan has made himself into an ingenue [Oeuvres Completes 640])
    • 2006 September, Kevin McFadden, “It's a Cue, the Name”, in Poetry, volume 188, number 5, page 417:
      America why callow ingenue bile?

Usage notes[edit]

The corresponding masculine term, ingenu, is poorly known, and so the feminine term is sometimes used in a gender-neutral or masculine way. (See the 2002 citation, where the explicit masculine French is feminized in English.)

Related terms[edit]


Further reading[edit]




ingenue f pl

  1. feminine plural of ingenuo


ingenue f

  1. plural of ingenua





  1. vocative masculine singular of ingenuus


  • ingenue”, in Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short (1879) A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press
  • ingenue”, in Charlton T. Lewis (1891) An Elementary Latin Dictionary, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • ingenue in Gaffiot, Félix (1934) Dictionnaire illustré latin-français, Hachette.