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a direct path, Latin ingenium produced Middle English ingeny "intellectual capacity, cleverness" (early 15c.), but this is obsolete.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.
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.
"interbreeding of races," applied originally and especially to sexual union between black and white individuals, 1863, coined irregularly by U.S. journalist David Goodman Croly from Latin miscere "to mix" (from PIE root *meik- "to mix") + genus "race," from PIE root *gene- "give birth, beget," with derivatives referring to procreation and familial and tribal groups. It first appeared in "Miscegenation: The Theory of the Blending of the Races, Applied to the American White Man and Negro," a pretended anti-Abolitionist pamphlet Croly and others published anonymously in advance of the 1864 U.S. presidential election. The old word was amalgamation.
The design of "Miscegenation" was exceedingly ambitious, and the machinery employed was probably among the most ingenious and audacious ever put into operation to procure the indorsement of absurd theories and give the subject the widest notoriety. The object was to so make use of the prevailing ideas of the extremists of the Anti-Slavery party, as to induce them to accept doctrines which would be obnoxious to the great mass of the community, and which would, of course, be used in the political canvass which was to ensue. [P.T. Barnum, "The Humbugs of the World," 1866; he also writes that, despite the pamphlet being an ingenious and impudent literary hoax, the word "has passed into the language and no future dictionary will be complete without it."]