1. characterized by cleverness or originality of invention or construction: an ingenious machine.
  2. cleverly inventive or resourceful: an ingenious press agent.
  3. Obsolete.
    1. intelligent; showing genius.
    2. ingenuous.


  1. possessing or done with ingenuity; skilful or clever
  2. obsolete having great intelligence; displaying genius

early 15c., “intellectual, talented,” from Middle French ingénieux “clever, ingenious” (Old French engeignos), from Latin ingeniosus “of good capacity, full of intellect; clever, gifted with genius,” from ingenium “innate qualities, ability,” literally “that which is inborn,” from in- “in” (see in- (2)) + gignere, from PIE *gen- “produce” (see genus). Sense of “skillful, clever at contrivance” first recorded 1540s. In a sense of “crafty, clever, skillful” Middle English had enginous (mid-14c.), from Old French engeignos. Related: Ingeniously; ingeniousness.

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