Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



Borrowed from Latin ingenuus (of noble character, frank).



ingenuous (comparative more ingenuous, superlative most ingenuous)

  1. Naive and trusting.
  2. Demonstrating childlike simplicity.
    • 1919, W. Somerset Maugham, The Moon and Sixpence, ch. 12
      "Do you mean to say you didn't leave your wife for another woman?"
      "Of course not."
      "On your word of honour?"
      I don't know why I asked for that. It was very ingenuous of me.
  3. Unsophisticated; clumsy or obvious.
    • 1965, New Left Review, page 86:
      The apparent contradictions in his behaviour should therefore be discounted as ingenuous attempts to extricate himself from the consequences of an intellectual position which he once adopted but was never really his by intimate conviction.
    • 1978, G. Lebzelter, Political Anti-Semitism in England 1918–1939, page 150:
      [] Semitic agitation by stating 'the truth' in terms of facts and figures, the practice of self-criticism represented a well-intended but ingenuous effort to defend Jewry against anti-Semitism.
    • 2012, Hester Rowan, The Linden Tree:
      There was nothing more I dared say. My ingenuous attempts to lie my way out of trouble had only served to get me in deeper and deeper.
  4. Unable to mask one's feelings.
  5. Straightforward, candid, open, and frank.

Usage notes[edit]

Do not confuse with ingenious.