early 15c., "intellectual, talented," from Old French ingenios, engeignos"clever, ingenious" (Modern French ingénieux), from Latin ingeniosus "of good natural capacity, full of intellect, clever, gifted with genius," from ingenium "innate qualities, ability; inborn character," literally "that which is inborn," from in- "in" (from PIE root *en "in") + gignere "to beget" (from PIE *gen(e)-yo-, suffixed form of root *gene- "give birth, beget").
Sense of "skillful, crafty, clever at contrivance" first recorded 1540s; earlier in this sense was Middle English enginous (mid-14c.), from Old French engeignos. Middle English also had engineful "skillful (in war)" (c. 1300). By a direct path, Latin ingenium produced Middle English ingeny "intellectual capacity, cleverness" (early 15c.), but this is obsolete. Compare engine. Related: Ingeniously; ingeniousness.
1590s, "honor, nobility," from French ingénuité "quality of freedom by birth" and directly from Latin ingenuitatem (nominative ingenuitas) "condition of a free-born man," figuratively "frankness, generosity, noble-mindedness," from ingenuus "frank, candid, noble" (see ingenuous).
Etymologically, this word belongs to ingenuous, but in 17c. ingenious "intellectual, talented" and ingenuous so often were confused (even by Shakespeare) that ingenuity in English has come to mean only "capacity for invention or construction." That sense of this word is first attested 1640s; the word for it in Middle English was ingeniosity (the native word is craftiness). French ingénuité, meanwhile, has evolved through "natural and graceful freedom of manners" to "graceful simplicity" (compare ingenue); for the sense "ingeniousness," French uses ingéniosité.
*genə-, also *gen-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "give birth, beget," with derivatives referring to procreation and familial and tribal groups.
It forms all or part of: Antigone; autogenous; benign; cognate; congener; congenial; congenital; connate; cosmogony; cryogenic; degenerate; engender; engine; epigone; eugenics; -gen; gendarme; gender; gene; genealogy; general; generate; generation; generic; generous; genesis; -genesis; genial; -genic; genital; genitive; genius; genocide; genotype; genre; gens; gent; genteel; gentile; gentle; gentry; genuine; genus; -geny; germ; german (adj.) "of the same parents or grandparents;" germane; germinal; germinate; germination; gingerly; gonad; gono-; gonorrhea; heterogeneous; homogeneous; homogenize; homogenous; impregnate; indigenous; ingenious; ingenuous; innate; jaunty; kermes; kin; kindergarten; kindred; king; kind (n.) "class, sort, variety;" kind (adj.) "friendly, deliberately doing good to others;" Kriss Kringle; malign; miscegenation; nada; naive; nascent; natal; Natalie; nation; native; nature; nee; neonate; Noel; oncogene; ontogeny; photogenic; phylogeny; pregnant (adj.1) "with child;" primogenitor; primogeniture; progenitor; progeny; puisne; puny; renaissance; theogony; wunderkind.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit janati "begets, bears," janah "offspring, child, person," janman- "birth, origin," jatah "born;" Avestan zizanenti "they bear;" Greek gignesthai "to become, happen," genos "race, kind," gonos "birth, offspring, stock;" Latin gignere "to beget," gnasci "to be born," genus (genitive generis) "race, stock, kind; family, birth, descent, origin," genius "procreative divinity, inborn tutelary spirit, innate quality," ingenium "inborn character," possibly germen "shoot, bud, embryo, germ;" Lithuanian gentis "kinsmen;" Gothic kuni "race;" Old English cennan "beget, create," gecynd "kind, nature, race;" Old High German kind "child;" Old Irish ro-genar "I was born;" Welsh geni "to be born;" Armenian cnanim "I bear, I am born."
also epigramme, "short poem or verse which has only one subject and finishes by a witty or ingenious turn of thought," mid-15c., from Old French épigramme, from Latin epigramma "an inscription," from Greek epigramma "inscription (especially in verse) on a tomb, public monument, etc.; a written estimate," from epigraphein "to write on, inscribe" (see epigraph). "The term was afterward extended to any little piece of verse expressing with precision a delicate or ingenious thought" [Century Dictionary]. Related: Epigrammatist.
c. 1600, "having an overweening opinion of oneself" (short for self-conceited, 1590s), past-participle adjective from conceit (v.) "conceive, imagine, think" (1550s), a now-obsolete verb from conceit (n.). Earlier it meant "having intelligence, ingenious, witty" (1540s). Related: Conceitedly; conceitedness.
late 14c., of a craft or skill, "pertaining to or involving mechanical labor" (a sense now usually with mechanical), also "having to do with tools," from Latin mechanicus "of or belonging to machines or mechanics; inventive," from Greek mēkhanikos "full of resources, inventive, ingenious," literally "mechanical, pertaining to machines," from mēkhanē "device, tool" (see machine (n.)). Meaning "of the nature of or pertaining to machines" is from 1620s.