9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[in-jen-yoo-uh s] /ɪnˈdʒɛn yu əs/
free from reserve, restraint, or dissimulation; candid; sincere.
artless; innocent; naive.
Obsolete. honorable or noble.
Origin of ingenuous
1590-1600; < Latin ingenuus native, free-born, honorable, frank, equivalent to in- in-2 + gen- (base of gignere; see ingenious) + -uus deverbal adj. suffix; see -ous
Related forms
ingenuously, adverb
ingenuousness, noun
half-ingenuous, adjective
half-ingenuously, adverb
half-ingenuousness, noun
Can be confused
ingenious, ingenuous (see usage note at ingenious)
1. frank, straightforward, open. 2. guileless.
Usage note Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for ingenuous
  • The claim is perhaps cagily ingenuous, by a writer often accused of being too cerebral and cool-hearted.
  • Many actors could have been too winsome or ingenuous in the part of such a professional good guy.
  • It is impossible not to accept it in the ingenuous spirit in which it was fabricated.
  • Our children need to think outside the box and be ingenuous to access the vast opportunity to gather information.
  • Its attempted vindication is neither ingenious nor ingenuous.
  • Everyone was flexible and ingenuous and looked for ways to keep things going.
  • Schuyler, however, was unable to enjoy the fruits of his ingenuous tactics.
  • No one, however ingenuous, can meaningfully facilitate any change in a community without familiarising with the people.
  • In some of their protests that they cannot change laws, agencies are being ingenuous.
  • He is not an innocent and ingenuous man freed from all the constrictions of society.
British Dictionary definitions for ingenuous


naive, artless, or innocent
candid; frank; straightforward
Derived Forms
ingenuously, adverb
ingenuousness, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Latin ingenuus freeborn, worthy of a freeman, virtuous, from in-² + -genuus, from gignere to beget
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for ingenuous

1590s, "noble in nature," from Latin ingenuus "with the virtues of freeborn people, of noble character, frank, upright, candid," originally "native, freeborn," from in- "in" (see in- (2)) + gen-, root of gignere "beget, produce" (see genus). Sense of "artless, innocent" is 1670s, via evolution from "high-minded" to "honorably open, straightforward," to "innocently frank." Related: Ingenuously; ingenuousness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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