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



ingenuous (comparative more ingenuous, superlative most ingenuous)

  1. Naive and trusting.
  2. Demonstrating childlike simplicity.
  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.
    • 1848 November – 1850 December, William Makepeace Thackeray, chapter 37, in The History of Pendennis. [], volume (please specify |volume=I or II), London: Bradbury and Evans, [], published 1849–1850, OCLC 2057953:
      [H]is Grace’s Man at his club, in company doubtless with other Men of equal social rank, talks over his master’s character and affairs with the ingenuous truthfulness which befits gentlemen who are met together in confidence.

Usage notes[edit]

Do not confuse with ingenious.




Related terms[edit]