Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
Proofreading Service - Pain in the EnglishProofreading Service - Pain in the English

Your Pain Is Our Pleasure

24-Hour Proofreading Service—We proofread your Google Docs or Microsoft Word files. We hate grammatical errors with passion. Learn More


Genius and Ingenious

Genius has no ‘o’ in it and yet ingenious does. Why the difference in spelling?

Submit Your Comment

or fill in the name and email fields below:


Sort by  OldestLatestRating

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.

Nicholas_Sanders March 13, 2006 @ 1:43AM

1 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse

Gee, I checked and they DO share a common root.

anonymous4 March 16, 2006 @ 4:31PM

2 votes    Permalink    Report Abuse

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.

dan1 March 16, 2006 @ 9:01PM

2 votes    Permalink    Report Abuse

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:

gaunt March 17, 2006 @ 11:04AM

0 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse

"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".

bubbha March 22, 2006 @ 2:50AM

3 votes    Permalink    Report Abuse

Thanks! There's less confusion now!

Isabells March 22, 2006 @ 10:58PM

0 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse


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.

Avrom March 23, 2006 @ 6:23PM

4 votes    Permalink    Report Abuse

You know what, Avrom? I was thinking the same thing.

Isabella1 March 23, 2006 @ 9:58PM

1 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse

Avrom, Iisabella, the dictionary backs you up. They are pronounced the same.

porsche March 25, 2006 @ 4:01PM

0 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse

Yes, I tried the dictionary and listened to its pronounciations earlier: they are the same in the last syllable.

Isabella1 March 28, 2006 @ 3:43PM

0 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse

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)

Bryan1 April 20, 2006 @ 6:13PM

0 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse

Where I come from, genius has two syllables, and ingenious has four. Gen-ius, in-gen-i-ous.

S_Onosson May 18, 2006 @ 4:01AM

0 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse


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!

Elizabeth2 July 29, 2008 @ 12:06PM

1 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse