Definition of ingenuous in English:



  • (of a person or action) innocent and unsuspecting.

    ‘he eyed her with wide, ingenuous eyes’
    ‘she's staggeringly ingenuous, or possibly very cunning indeed’
    • ‘She thanked me with ingenuous sweetness for coming home with her.’
    • ‘He praises natural gracefulness in contrast to formal restraint: "an ingenuous freedom is better than constraint".’
    • ‘They were charming youths, ingenuous and intelligent at the same time.’
    • ‘Donald was ingenuous and unworldly.’
    • ‘But underneath it, in the emotional and psychological content, the plot is very ingenuous, almost adolescent.’
    • ‘At the risk of being thought even more ingenuous or, indeed, of exposing myself to ridicule, let me present another idea.’
    • ‘This ingenuous charm contrasts with Mason's greater worldliness, greater opacity.’
    • ‘"Let's just keep it that way," Hallie replied, giving her an ingenuous.’
    • ‘Policy-planning, decision-making and implementation of strategy should be transparent and ingenuous.’
    • ‘Such ingenuous theatricality marked much of that failed President's public speech, just as it marks his son's - a self-reflexiveness that many journalists noted at the time.’
    • ‘The original novel caught the ingenuous babble of its protagonist, naively recording the happy circumstances of her household as her master closed in on her.’
    • ‘I assure you, I'm neither ingenuous or disingenuous here.’
    • ‘Speaking personally however may I suggest that for European consumption you would be wise to omit details of your national service, which you describe with such evident and ingenuous pride?’
    • ‘You have guests staying: nice, kind, ingenuous and well-meaning people, who are also rather boring.’
    • ‘Ryder's familiarity with the camera contributes to his disarmingly ingenuous presence, by turns determined and naive.’
    • ‘Sometimes the reviewer knows nothing of the author or the reputation in which a book comes wrapped, the result being a rare, ingenuous honesty.’
    • ‘It had a sly, ingenuous surface, the charming and amusing thoughts of a group of seven-year-olds ruminating on sex, money, school, race, love, mum and dad, the future and each other.’
    • ‘It seemed to my ingenuous eyes that this fellow was literally handing out cash to patrons as they entered the theater, and it occurred to me that this might be some kind of rebate.’
    • ‘Somewhat ingenuous and too trusting, nevertheless he made a lasting contribution to the land he came to love.’
    • ‘It may these days sound ingenuous, but in my memory the company gave a great deal more genuine consideration to its employees than one can find in the mealy-mouthed mantras of ‘human resources’.’
    naive, innocent, simple, childlike, trusting, trustful, over-trusting, unwary, unsuspicious, unguarded, unsceptical, uncritical, unworldly, wide-eyed, inexperienced, green
    View synonyms


Late 16th century: from Latin ingenuus literally ‘native, inborn’, from in- ‘into’ + an element related to gignere ‘beget’. The original sense was ‘noble, generous’, giving rise to ‘honourably straightforward, frank’, hence ‘innocently frank’ (late 17th century).