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[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
See ingenious. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for ingenuously
Historical Examples
  • "I fear so," answered Bertha, ingenuously, and yet blushing deeply.

    Fairy Fingers Anna Cora Mowatt Ritchie
  • "My companion and I have fled the Gallic camp," responded Meroë ingenuously.

    The Brass Bell Eugne Sue
  • Annesley backed him up with one of the girlish blushes that made her seem so young and ingenuously attractive.

    The Second Latchkey Charles Norris Williamson and Alice Muriel Williamson
  • He had related them to me clearly and ingenuously, and I had listened with interest.

    The Devil's Pool George Sand
  • Fluff had taken the First Fourth and ingenuously confessed to any one who cared to listen that he ought to have gone to Eton.

    The Hill Horace Annesley Vachell
  • "It is the first time I haven't got what I wanted," she said ingenuously.

    The Californians Gertrude Franklin Horn Atherton
  • "Monseigneur knows that I always speak the truth," replied Frantz, ingenuously.

    Luxury-Gluttony: Eugne Sue
  • "To thank you for all your kindness to her," replied the lad, ingenuously.

    Eventide Effie Afton
  • Urbain had ingenuously asked her how she had the strength and the courage to face all the dangers of battle.

  • I thought I saw what was coming, but I said ingenuously, "Do you want to buy something?"

    The Aspern Papers Henry James
British Dictionary definitions for ingenuously


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 ingenuously



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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