Writing for Business - A Whatis.com Blog

Jul 30 2012   8:50PM GMT

ingenuous vs. disingenuous



Posted by: Ivy Wigmore
Tags:
CIO
commonly confused words
made-up words
non-words

Which is correct?
The media is being __________ when it follows a vendor’s lead and calls a blatant marketing event a “news conference.”
a. ingenuous
b. disingenuous


Answer: b

Explanation:
Unless we see the press as being naive and easily duped, they’re disingenuous in this context.

In yesterday’s post, I wrote about ingenious vs. ingenuous and mentioned that a lot of people don’t seem to realize there are two different words. I came across one mention of a Microsoft Word correction error, in which some typoed version of ingenious is corrected to ingenuous.

One thing I hadn’t anticipated was that other people seem to use ingenuous when they mean disingenuous.

Here’s the first definition of ingenuous that pops up in a Google search:

in·gen·u·ous/inˈjenyo͞oəs/
Adjective:
(of a person or action) Innocent and unsuspecting.
Synonyms:
artless – naive – candid – frank – simple – guileless

Someone is disingenuous if they are insincere but pretend to have those qualities. I suspect the use of ingenuous to mean disingenuous comes from thinking the word is linked to genuine, so ingenuous might mean not genuine.

And then there are people throwing ingenuine into the mix. Darren Barefoot, seeking support, found 19,100 Google hits for it — but none in dictionaries. That was in 2007. Let’s see… Today we’re up to 98,800. That means that, although ingenuine is still not a word, it may well be some day. Adding a new category for posts now: Non-words.

Follow me on Twitter @tao_of_grammar

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