Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

As well as the standard oratorio repertory, she sang solo recitals, her dazzling smile and enchantingly ingenuous personality creating an instant bond with audiences. TELEGRAPH

I am a little bit confused about the definition of ingenuous on OALD:

ingenuous: honest, innocent and willing to trust people

What I am wondering about is honest in that definition. In my understanding it does not match with innocent and willing to trust.

Another definition on Oxford Dictionaries is less ambivalent:

ingenuous: (of a person or action) innocent and unsuspecting:

But in the context above honest would make sense and, in any case, more than being naive. Moreover my favorite translation service provides some translation in meaning of being frankly so I suppose that ingenuous has two meanings: naivety and frankness.

What is the meaning of ingenuous in the given context and what is the precise definition in general?

share|improve this question
add comment

3 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

It is an unusual adjective. In this case, it probably means "undisingenuous" — not attempting, or attempting to appear, to be something she isn't (so "honest" works for "ingenuous").

The "innocent and unsuspecting" is mirrored in the borrowed French noun ingénu(e) (innocent, virtuous, candid, lacking cunning...)

share|improve this answer
    
I also think it's an "unusual adjective". I was surprised to find that according to NGrams, it's been appearing in print more often that disengenuous until the last couple of decades. –  FumbleFingers Mar 21 '12 at 23:53
    
Does undisingenuous really exist? –  Em1 Mar 22 '12 at 7:52
    
Because of undisingenuous ... disingenuous isn't the antonym to ingenuous, is it? –  Em1 Mar 22 '12 at 7:57
1  
@Em1, yes: if ingenuous means "honest, natural, real, sincere" and disingenuous means "dishonest, scheming, hiding something relevant", then they are antonyms. See also this question. I coined *undisingenuous" to make it clear what I meant. At least, that's what I wanted to do! –  Andrew Leach Mar 22 '12 at 11:27
add comment

Here is yet another from M-W:

1 free from any intent to deceive or impress others
ex: photographs that capture the ingenuous smiles of young children at play

Synonyms: artless, genuine, honest, innocent, naive (or na{iuml}ve), natural, real, simple, sincere, true, unaffected, unpretending, unpretentious

Solo voice recital requires more than singing. I took voice for several years and was taught that premeditated physical expression (acting, basically) is equally important to proper projection and economy of breath in order to fully express a piece's narrative.

In the given context

2 As well as the standard oratorio repertory, she sang solo recitals, her dazzling smile and enchantingly ingenuous personality creating an instant bond with audiences.

the synonyms I've made bold-face are those that speak to me with regard to what I was taught.

share|improve this answer
add comment

The writer is using ingenuous in the sense of ingenue:

ingenue, noun : 1 a : an ingenuous unsophisticated girl or young woman : a girl just entering society : DEBUTANTE {suitable dress for an ingenue}; especially : a stage part representing a character that is youthful, innocent, appealing, sweet, sympathetic {musical comedy ingenue}

Note especially the last sense of Merriam-Webster's definition.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.