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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 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for ingenuousness
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I inquired, for ingenuousness of that sort is uncommon among the Jews.

    Mortmain Arthur Cheny Train
  • Such unaffected simplicity and ingenuousness is most refreshing to witness.

    In Eastern Seas J. J. Smith
  • "I haven't a doubt of it," said Peter soberly, though very much amused at his employer's ingenuousness.

    The Vagrant Duke George Gibbs
  • "Well, maybe a little," admitted Joe, smiling at the lad's ingenuousness.

  • These two examples of ingenuousness are sufficiently characteristic of the morality of the system.

    The Sexual Question August Forel
  • Mr Sparkler might have replied with ingenuousness, 'My life, I have nothing to say.'

    Little Dorrit Charles Dickens
  • These questions, uttered with childish rapidity and ingenuousness, threw some light upon the apparent mystery.

    Adrift on the Pacific Edward S. Ellis
  • His presence and air had the appearance of frankness, ingenuousness, and manly confidence.

    Imogen William Godwin
  • Despite the ingenuousness of her loyal nature, Joan could no longer doubt the ill will or jealousy of the captains.

British Dictionary definitions for ingenuousness


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 ingenuousness



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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