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Genius has no ‘o’ in it and yet ingenious does. Why the difference in spelling?
The simple answer is that there isn't really a question. If you check the etymology of the two words, you'll find that they don't in fact share a common root as you seem to assume.
March 13, 2006, 1:43am
Gee, I checked and they DO share a common root.
March 16, 2006, 4:31pm
If you pronounce them correctly, they don't sound alike, either.
Ingenious: "intellectual, talented," from M.Fr. ingénieux "clever, ingenious" (O.Fr. engeignos), from L. ingeniosus "of good capacity, gifted with genius," from ingenium "innate qualities, ability," lit. "that which is inborn," from in- "in" + gignere, from PIE *gen- "produce." Sense of "skillful, clever" first recorded 1548
Genius: from L. genius "guardian deity or spirit which watches over each person from birth; spirit, incarnation, wit, talent," from root of gignere "beget, produce" (see kin), from PIE base *gen- "produce." Meaning "person of natural intelligence or talent" first recorded 1649.
March 16, 2006, 9:01pm
It gets even more complicated (sticky in both root and meaning) when you throw "ingenuous" into the mix; an example of language as some sort of devil's whore and complicated to teach. Different roots all.
But (the inimitable) languagehat addresses this by way of OED cut/paste here:
March 17, 2006, 11:04am
"genius" is a noun."ingenious" is an adjective.
"-ous" is an English adjective ending; "-us" is a noun ending originating from Latin.
Consider the difference between "callus" and "callous".
March 22, 2006, 2:50am
Thanks! There's less confusion now!
March 22, 2006, 10:58pm
They don't sound alike? Wow, have I been pronouncing them incorrectly the entire time? Or perhaps it's a dialect difference? I've certainly always pronounced "ingenious" (not to be confused with "ingenuous", of course) pretty much exactly the way I pronounce "genius", except with an "in-" at the beginning.
March 23, 2006, 6:23pm
You know what, Avrom? I was thinking the same thing.
March 23, 2006, 9:58pm
Avrom, Iisabella, the dictionary backs you up. They are pronounced the same.
March 25, 2006, 4:01pm
Yes, I tried the dictionary and listened to its pronounciations earlier: they are the same in the last syllable.
March 28, 2006, 3:43pm
I suppose you could pronounce them
ingenious - 'in-jenn-you-us'
genius - 'jean-you-us'
But that would depend upon if you were pro-Jenn, or pro-Jean. (joke)
April 20, 2006, 6:13pm
Where I come from, genius has two syllables, and ingenious has four. Gen-ius, in-gen-i-ous.
May 18, 2006, 4:01am
The word "ingenuous" is not pronounced the same as "ingenious," nor does it share the same meaning.
Ingenuous (in one meaning an obsolete form of "ingenious") has a second meaning referring to innocence, child-like simplicity, demonstrating a lack of subtlety. Pronouced in-jehn-you-us.
Ingenious is the adjective noting aptitude or demonstration of genius. Pronounced in-jeen-yus or in-jean-yuhs.
Similar roots, but different meanings!
July 29, 2008, 12:06pm
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