Someone who is ingenuous shows a childlike innocence, trust, and openness. One of the things kindergarten teachers value is the chance to work with kids while they're still relatively ingenuous — their open, trusting natures are a joy.

Ingenuous is roughly synonymous with naive, and its antonym is disingenuous, which means "giving a false impression of being honest and sincere." Don't confuse the word ingenuous with the similarly spelled ingenious, which means "very smart or clever." Ingenuous is from Latin ingenuus "having the qualities of people born free, noble, honest, open."

Definitions of ingenuous
  1. adjective
    lacking in sophistication or worldliness
    synonyms: innocent
    naif, naive
    marked by or showing unaffected simplicity and lack of guile or worldly experience
  2. adjective
    characterized by an inability to mask your feelings; not devious
    “an ingenuous admission of responsibility”
    synonyms: artless
    candid, heart-to-heart, open
    openly straightforward and direct without reserve or secretiveness
    without alteration or misrepresentation
    open and genuine; not deceitful
    naif, naive
    marked by or showing unaffected simplicity and lack of guile or worldly experience
    see moresee less
    artful, disingenuous
    not straightforward or candid; giving a false appearance of frankness
    distorted, misrepresented, perverted, twisted
    having an intended meaning altered or misrepresented
    lacking sincerity
    show more antonyms...
Commonly confused words

ingenious / ingenuous

Anything ingenious is smart and clever, but ingenuous means innocent and naive. The ingenious villain in your favorite comic book series might come up with diabolical plots, while the ingenuous heroine doesn't suspect a thing.

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