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[in-juh-noo-i-tee, -nyoo-]
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noun, plural in·ge·nu·i·ties for 3.
  1. the quality of being cleverly inventive or resourceful; inventiveness: a designer of great ingenuity.
  2. cleverness or skillfulness of conception or design: a device of great ingenuity.
  3. an ingenious contrivance or device.
  4. Obsolete. ingenuousness.
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Origin of ingenuity

1590–1600; < Latin ingenuitās innate virtue, etc. (see ingenuous, -ity); current senses by association with ingenious
Related formshy·per·in·ge·nu·i·ty, nounsu·per·in·ge·nu·i·ty, noun, plural su·per·in·ge·nu·i·ties.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for ingenuity


noun plural -ties
  1. inventive talent; cleverness
  2. an ingenious device, act, etc
  3. archaic frankness; candour
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Word Origin

C16: from Latin ingenuitās a freeborn condition, outlook consistent with such a condition, from ingenuus native, freeborn (see ingenuous); meaning influenced by ingenious
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 ingenuity


1590s, "honor, nobility," from Middle French ingénuité and directly from Latin ingenuitatem (nominative ingenuitas) "condition of a free-born man," figuratively "generosity, noble-mindedness," from ingenuus (see ingenuous). Etymologically, this word belongs to ingenuous, but in 17c. ingenious and ingenuous so often were confused (even by Shakespeare) that ingenuity has acquired the meaning "capacity for invention or construction" (first attested 1640s).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper