1. free from reserve, restraint, or dissimulation; candid; sincere.
  2. artless; innocent; naive.
  3. Obsolete. honorable or noble.


  1. naive, artless, or innocent
  2. candid; frank; straightforward

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.

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