As per usual, ingenious and ingenuous certainly look very similar, and a simple typing error can make your sentences take on a completely different meaning. Generally, these words seem to be mixed up in writing, and “ingenuous” is often used when the intended meaning should actually convey something of a genius nature instead. However, each has a distinct meaning and should be used correctly.
Ingenious: clever, inventive, original
Ingenuous: candid, naive, trusting, without guile, unsuspecting
Now that you know their meanings, it’s clear how sentences will change so drastically, or even be totally confusing, if you misuse these words.
Their Usage and Some Examples
Her art project was an ingenious and beautiful use of paint and ribbon.
He considered the combination of chocolate and peanut butter ingenious.
The ingenuous little boy told the stranger at the door that the boy’s mother wasn’t home.
I asked Alice if she thought the dress looked good on me. Her ingenuous reply was, “The color looks nice, but the style doesn’t flatter your figure.”
Ingenious: The meaning has stayed the same throughout the years.
Ingenuous: For the most part, the meaning of “ingenuous” has stayed the same. However, before the 1600s, the meaning was more associated with being noble and honorable with one’s honesty. Now, the open honesty has a more naive connotation.
Now that you know the differences in these words, find out some other “Commonly Confused Words” you may want to master.