disingenuous

Use the adjective disingenuous to describe behavior that's not totally honest or sincere. It's disingenuous when people pretend to know less about something than they really do.

Disingenuous combines dis-, meaning "not," with ingenuous (from the Latin gen-, meaning "born") which was originally used to distinguish free-born Romans from slaves, and later came to mean honest or straightforward. So disingenuous means dishonest. Ingenuous is less common now than disingenuous, but we still use it for someone who is sincere to the point of naiveté. A good synonym is insincere.

Definitions of disingenuous
  1. adjective
    not straightforward or candid; giving a false appearance of frankness
    “"an ambitious, disingenuous, philistine, and hypocritical operator, who...exemplified...the most disagreeable traits of his time"- David Cannadine”
    “a disingenuous excuse”
    synonyms: artful
    distorted, misrepresented, perverted, twisted
    having an intended meaning altered or misrepresented
    insincere
    lacking sincerity
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    Antonyms:
    artless, ingenuous
    characterized by an inability to mask your feelings; not devious
    candid, heart-to-heart, open
    openly straightforward and direct without reserve or secretiveness
    undistorted
    without alteration or misrepresentation
    sincere
    open and genuine; not deceitful
    naif, naive
    marked by or showing unaffected simplicity and lack of guile or worldly experience
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