- not straightforward; not candid or frank
- slyly deceptive or misleading, typically by means of a pretense of ignorance or unawareness
An example of disingenuous is a child's excuse, “the dog ate my homework.”
- Not straightforward or candid; insincere or calculating: “Increasingly, the question of immigration has become a disingenuous stalking-horse for race and racial hostility” ( Tyler Stovall )
- Pretending to be unaware or unsophisticated; faux-naïf.
- Usage Problem Unaware or uninformed; naive.
Usage Note: Disingenuous means “not ingenuous,” that is, not innocent, naive, or guileless. As such it can refer to someone who is insincere or calculating, as in It is both insensitive and disingenuous for the White House to describe its aid package and the proposal to eliminate the federal payment as “tough love,” or to someone who is pretending to be unsophisticated, as in “I don't have a clue about late Beethoven!” he said. The remark seemed disingenuous, coming from one of the world's foremost concert pianists. Both of the sentences above were accepted by large majorities of the Usage Panel. As with many words containing prefixes that negate ( dis- ) or seem to negate ( in- ), speakers sometimes lose track of exactly what is being negated, and sometimes use disingenuous when ingenuous would be more appropriate, namely as a synonym for naive, . This usage is considered an error by careful writers: In our 1997 survey, seventy-five percent of the Usage Panel disapproved of the phrase a disingenuous tourist who falls prey to stereotypical con artists.
(comparative more disingenuous, superlative most disingenuous)
- Nouns to which "disingenuous" is often applied: attempt, argument, statement, conduct, people, excuse, question.
dis- + ingenuous
- If this behavior wasn't already disingenuous enough, he sunk even lower by asking you "if you wanted to stop seeing him?"
- I don't appreciate when you equivocate with me, it seems disingenuous.
- Himself the soul of honour and truthfulness, he had no toleration for the disingenuous arguments and the mis-statements of facts of those who wrote to support a theory or to defend an unsound cause.
- In the same year he spoke on behalf of the proposal of Gaius Manilius to transfer the command against Mithradates from Lucullus to Pompey (de Lege Manilia), and delivered his clever but disingenuous defence of Aulus Cluentius (pro Cluentio) .
- In the resulting conflicts, in which his personal interest was in question, he displayed great activity and a wide knowledge of canon law, but did not scruple to resort to disingenuous interpretation of texts.