ingenious

ingenious
ingenious, ingenuous
These two words are distantly related and both have undergone a major shift in meaning. Ingenious came into English via French from a Latin source derived from ingenium ‘cleverness’; it originally meant ‘intellectual, talented’, but the meaning gradually weakened and its current sense is less complimentary and even depreciatory, ‘(of a person) clever, showing aptitude for devising curious devices’ and ‘(of a device or idea) cleverly contrived’:

• There were the ingenious hand-made toys, the shadow-puppets manipulated on sticks —H. Trevelyan, 1971

• I see…that some ingenious person…has videotaped my television series —Brian Aldiss, 1980

• The score ingeniously employs reeds, brass, percussion and lower strings, instruments that can be associated with power and oppressive darkness —MV Daily, AmE 2003 [OEC].

Ingenuous, by contrast, is derived from Latin ingenuus ‘freeborn’ and originally meant ‘befitting a free man, noble in character’, eventually weakening in sense to mean ‘open, frank, candid’:

• Getty arrived half an hour late with the ingenuous excuse that he had miscalculated how long it would take him to walk from the Ritz to Boodles Club in St James's Street —Art Newspaper, 1992

• She smiled ingenuously and the openness of her face seemed to ease his bad temper a little —S. Wood, 1993

• Akimov speaks with ingenuous enthusiasm about his commitment to unifying the company —Guardian, 2001.

The noun ingenuity was originally a derivative of ingenuous but was usurped by ingenious in the 16c, so that in current use ingenuity corresponds to ingenious, and ingenuousness corresponds to ingenuous. See also disingenuous.

Modern English usage. 2014.

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  • Ingenious — A game in play Designer(s) Reiner Knizia Publisher(s) Fantasy Flight Games Kosmos Sophisticated Games Players …   Wikipedia

  • Ingenious — In*gen ious, a. [L. ingeniosus, fr. ingenium innate or natural quality, natural capacity, genius: cf. F. ing[ e]nieux. See {Engine}.] 1. Possessed of genius, or the faculty of invention; skillful or promp to invent; having an aptitude to contrive …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • ingenious — early 15c., intellectual, talented, from M.Fr. ingénieux clever, ingenious (O.Fr. engeignos), from L. ingeniosus of good capacity, full of intellect; clever, gifted with genius, from ingenium innate qualities, ability, lit. that which is inborn,… …   Etymology dictionary

  • ingenious — [in jēn′yəs] adj. [LME < MFr ingenieux < L ingeniosus, of good capacity, gifted with genius, ingenious < ingenium, innate quality, ability < in , in + gignere: see GENUS] 1. Obs. having genius; having great mental ability 2. clever,… …   English World dictionary

  • ingenious — index artful, competent, deft, expert, fertile, original (creative), politic, proficient …   Law dictionary

  • ingenious — cunning, *clever, adroit Analogous words: inventing or inventive, creating or creative, discovering (see corresponding verbs at INVENT): *dexterous, handy, deft: skillful, adept, skilled, expert, *proficient, masterly …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • ingenious — [adj] clever; brilliant able, adroit, artistic, bright, canny, crafty, creative, cunning, deviceful, dexterous, gifted, imaginative, innovational, innovative, innovatory, intelligent, inventive, original, ready, resourceful, shrewd, skillful, sly …   New thesaurus

  • ingenious — ► ADJECTIVE ▪ clever, original, and inventive. DERIVATIVES ingeniously adverb ingeniousness noun. ORIGIN Latin ingeniosus, from ingenium mind, intellect ; related to ENGINE(Cf. ↑engineless) …   English terms dictionary

  • ingenious — ingeniously, adv. ingeniousness, n. /in jeen yeuhs/, adj. 1. characterized by cleverness or originality of invention or construction: an ingenious machine. 2. cleverly inventive or resourceful: an ingenious press agent. 3. Obs. a. intelligent;… …   Universalium

  • ingenious — in•gen•ious [[t]ɪnˈdʒin yəs[/t]] adj. 1) characterized by cleverness or originality of invention: an ingenious argument[/ex] 2) cleverly inventive; resourceful: an ingenious mechanic[/ex] 3) Obs. a) intelligent; showing genius b) ingenuous •… …   From formal English to slang

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