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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. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for ingenuously
Historical Examples
  • "The truth is, I don't know where to put them," ingenuously acknowledged Hurst.

    The Channings Mrs. Henry Wood
  • By what I have ingenuously told you, you may see who began this corruption.

    Clarissa, Volume 3 (of 9) Samuel Richardson
  • Then, convincingly and ingenuously, I knew you loved me the moment we first met.

    The Fifth String

    John Philip Sousa
  • "To thank you for all your kindness to her," replied the lad, ingenuously.

    Eventide Effie Afton
  • "I fear so," answered Bertha, ingenuously, and yet blushing deeply.

    Fairy Fingers Anna Cora Mowatt Ritchie
  • "I shall be delighted if I can be of any service to you," she said ingenuously.

    The Silver Lining John Roussel
  • "My companion and I have fled the Gallic camp," responded Meroë ingenuously.

    The Brass Bell Eugne Sue
  • He had related them to me clearly and ingenuously, and I had listened with interest.

    The Devil's Pool George Sand
  • "It is the first time I haven't got what I wanted," she said ingenuously.

    The Californians

    Gertrude Franklin Horn Atherton
  • Pray why, inquired Ralph ingenuously, did Darsie not come when she had the chance?

    A College Girl Mrs. George de Horne Vaizey
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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