Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
January 29th, 2015
Episode 91 of 797 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for January 29, 2015 is: disingenuous \dis-in-JEN-yuh-wuss\ adjective : lacking in candor; also : giving a false appearance of simple frankness : calculating Examples: Be aware that their expressions of concern may in truth be disingenuous and self-serving. "He said the group's claims were wildly disingenuous and its objections politically and financially motivated." James L. Rosica, The Tampa Tribune, December 18, 2014 Did you know? Today's word has its roots in the slave-holding society of ancient Rome. Its ancestor ingenuus is a Latin adjective meaning "native" or "freeborn" (itself from gignere, meaning "to beget"). Ingenuus begot the English adjective ingenuous. That adjective originally meant "freeborn" (as in "ingenuous Roman subjects") or "noble and honorable," but it eventually came to mean "showing childlike innocence" or "lacking guile." In the mid-17th century, English speakers combined the negative prefix dis- with ingenuous to create disingenuous, meaning "guileful" or "deceitful."