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I'm trying to decide how to describe someone. He is not very wise, but that is also due to his ignorance. Should I use "innocence" or "immature" and can someone please explain the difference between these two phrases?

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I don't think there is anything like enough context in this question. There must be dozens if not hundreds of possible words for people who aren't very wise. And it's hard to see how anyone could be wise if they are ignorant, so that doesn't tell us much more. This is not a good question. –  FumbleFingers May 24 '11 at 0:32
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4 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Given your explanation, I'm not sure I would choose either word. Some other options:

  • inexperienced
  • ingenuous
  • unsophisticated
  • naive

I think I would go with naive. It's often used as a synonym for "gullible", but its original sense seems perfect here.

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+1 for naïve. Exactly the right word to describe the person in the original question. –  nohat May 24 '11 at 7:12
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Using immature would give the idea that a person has the ability to show wisdom, but are not doing so in a situation.

Using innocent would portray a person that is more simple in nature, and possible unable to show wisdom in certain situations.

Adam Sandler in The Waterboy is innocent, while Adam Sandler in Happy Gilmore is immature.

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Ah, but what is he in The Wedding Singer? –  MT_Head May 23 '11 at 23:47
    
+1 for the perfect illustration using Adam Sandler! –  hippietrail May 24 '11 at 3:42
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Both of these words can certainly be used to describe someone who is not very wise, but immature means undeveloped, and innocent means unsophisticated.

If you are talking about someone who is ignorant because they are young and inexperienced, I'd suggest immature. However, if you are talking about someone who is ignorant because they have been sheltered from the world, I'd say innocent is more appropriate. Either way, I think innocent is slightly less offensive than immature.

If you want some other suggestions, unrefined or provincial might do.

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Innocent can also be used to describe the appearance, means friendly, cute or at least not looks like a bad person.

He looks innocent.

He is innocent looking.

Immature is used to describe someone looks young, childish or mentally naive.

I will go with "immature".

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