• Ingenue



    From the French word ingénue, the feminine form of ingénu (meaning “guileless”), originally from the Latin word ingenuus (meaning “ingenuous”).

    Full definition of ingenue



    (plural ingenues)
    1. An innocent, unsophisticated, naïve, wholesome girl or young woman.
    2. A dramatic role of such a woman; an actress playing such a role.
    3. An innocent, unsophisticated, naïve, wholesome person.
      • 11 June 1951, Acheson, Political IngenueMr. Acheson's failure as Secretary of State ... has been an inability to understand people or to be understood by them.
      • 2002, What Makes Lord Byron Go? Strong Determinations-Public/Private-of Imperial ErrancyI cannot resist citing, slightly out of context, another bit of Baudelaire: "Satan s'est fait ingénu" (Satan has made himself into an ingenue Completes 640).
      • 2006, It's a Cue, the NameAmerica why callow ingenue bile?

    Usage notes

    The corresponding masculine term, ingenu, is poorly known, and so the feminine term is sometimes used in a gender-neutral or masculine way. (See the 2002 citation, where the explicit masculine French is feminized in English.)

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