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See more synonyms for ingenuous on Thesaurus.com
  1. free from reserve, restraint, or dissimulation; candid; sincere.
  2. artless; innocent; naive.
  3. Obsolete. honorable or noble.
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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 formsin·gen·u·ous·ly, adverbin·gen·u·ous·ness, nounhalf-in·gen·u·ous, adjectivehalf-in·gen·u·ous·ly, adverbhalf-in·gen·u·ous·ness, noun
Can be confusedingenious ingenuous (see usage note at ingenious)


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Usage note

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for ingenuous

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Without knowing why, they understood perfectly now that neither had been ingenuous.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • Somehow, the inflection on the last word did not altogether suggest the ingenuous.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • It was ingenuous and brave; born of a proud and great purity.

    The Dream

    Emile Zola

  • He trembled before this innocence, so ardent and so ingenuous.

    The Dream

    Emile Zola

  • He was, however, anticipated by the voice of the ingenuous and youthful Alice.

    The Last of the Mohicans

    James Fenimore Cooper

British Dictionary definitions for ingenuous


  1. naive, artless, or innocent
  2. candid; frank; straightforward
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Derived Formsingenuously, adverbingenuousness, 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

Word Origin and History for ingenuous


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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper