[ in-jeen-yuhs ]
/ ɪnˈdʒin yəs /


characterized by cleverness or originality of invention or construction: an ingenious machine.
cleverly inventive or resourceful: an ingenious press agent.
  1. intelligent; showing genius.
  2. ingenuous.

Nearby words

  1. ingelow, jean,
  2. ingemar,
  3. ingeminate,
  4. ingenerate,
  5. ingenhousz,
  6. ingenue,
  7. ingenuity,
  8. ingenuous,
  9. ingerland,
  10. ingersoll

Origin of ingenious

1375–1425; late Middle English < Latin ingeniōsus, equivalent to ingeni(um) natural disposition, cleverness (in- in-2 + gen- (base of gignere to bring into being; cf. genitor) + -ium -ium) + -ōsus -ous

Related forms
Can be confusedingenious ingenuous (see usage note at the current entry)

Usage note

Ingenious and ingenuous are now distinct from each other and are not synonyms. Ingenious means “characterized by cleverness” or “cleverly inventive,” as in contriving new explanations or methods: an ingenious device; ingenious designers. Ingenuous means “candid” or “innocent”: an ingenuous and sincere statement; a thug with the ingenuous eyes of a choirboy. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for ingenious

British Dictionary definitions for ingenious


/ (ɪnˈdʒiːnjəs, -nɪəs) /


possessing or done with ingenuity; skilful or clever
obsolete having great intelligence; displaying genius
Derived Formsingeniously, adverbingeniousness, noun

Word Origin for ingenious

C15: from Latin ingeniōsus, from ingenium natural ability; see engine

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

Word Origin and History for ingenious



early 15c., "intellectual, talented," from Middle French ingénieux "clever, ingenious" (Old French engeignos), from Latin ingeniosus "of good capacity, full of intellect; clever, gifted with genius," from ingenium "innate qualities, ability," literally "that which is inborn," from in- "in" (see in- (2)) + gignere, from PIE *gen- "produce" (see genus). Sense of "skillful, clever at contrivance" first recorded 1540s. In a sense of "crafty, clever, skillful" Middle English had enginous (mid-14c.), from Old French engeignos. Related: Ingeniously; ingeniousness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper