question about the word "disingenuous"

James A. Landau JJJRLandau at AOL.COM
Wed Mar 14 15:44:47 UTC 2001

In a message dated 3/14/01 9:07:24 AM Eastern Standard Time,
MDutton at SIKORSKY.COM writes:

<< During a  call to a New York AM talk show today, I used the word
"disingenuous" to  describe one of the hosts arguments.  I pronounced it
dis-in-jeen-ee-us  (as I have my entire adult life),   <snip>   I am  curious
if I'm the only person who grew up incorrectly pronouncing this  word. >>

The words "ingenious" (clever) and "ingenuous" (innocent) are easily
confused, and not just in English.  According to MWCD10, they derive from
Latin ingeniosus and ingenuus respectively and there must have been plenty of
Romans who got the two confused, which means you can claim your verbal usage
of "disingenious" for "disingenuous" cannot be incorrect English because it
antedates the existence of the English language.

MWCD10 cites the opposite error (?), namely the use of "ingenuous" to mean
"ingenious", as dating from 1588.  (SIr Francis Drake's ingenuous tactics for
fighting the Spanish Armada?)

Personally, it took me the longest time to realize that Don Quixote was NOT
"the ingenious hidalgo from La Mancha".

I don't recall ever having met the word "disingenious" meaning "not showing
intelligence or aptitude; not marked by resourcefulness or cleverness":, but
there are some co-workers of mine whose problem-solving abilities can best be
thus described.

                       - Jim Landau

More information about the Ads-l mailing list