The confusion curse of Microsoft Word spell check has struck, correcting my rushed typing out of the word ingenious with ingenuous. In my defense, the key vowels are all in a line on my keyboard, but I was intrigued by how close the spelling is of the two words, and researched their origins.
Ingenuous means to be honest, open and sincere and it comes from the Latin word igenuus that is very similar to our modern word and almost means freeborn and generous. Interestingly, the Latin root word for ingenuous can also imply ingenious, but the modern word ingenuous does not. Ingenuous can also mean innocent, unworldly and naïve, and you’re probably familiar with the character archetype of the ingénue, often a girl or young woman who is endearingly innocent and usually has the best intentions.
This is clearly different from ingenious, which means to be brilliant and creative, and is usually used in association with inventing something, or a new idea or insight. The term ingenious comes from the Latin word ingenium that means inherent talent and the ability to cleverly devise new ideas and solutions. This root word has no link to ingenuous.