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 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)

Synonyms for ingenuous

Usage note Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for ingenuousness

Contemporary Examples of ingenuousness

Historical Examples of ingenuousness

  • There is an ingenuousness, an honourable frankness about him, that I love.

  • Mr Sparkler might have replied with ingenuousness, 'My life, I have nothing to say.'

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

  • His presence and air had the appearance of frankness, ingenuousness, and manly confidence.


    William Godwin

  • They gave these shrewd railroad men no credit for ingenuousness.

  • With the utmost sincerity and ingenuousness he condemned Mr. Edwards.

    The Calico Cat

    Charles Miner Thompson

British Dictionary definitions for ingenuousness



naive, artless, or innocent
candid; frank; straightforward
Derived Formsingenuously, adverbingenuousness, noun

Word Origin for ingenuous

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 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