Difference Between Naive and Naivety

The English vocabulary is immensely complicated and sometimes hard to understand. Naive and naivety are two words that often create a problem. Many people confuse both the terms for the same thing and even use them interchangeably at times. However, this is incorrect. Understanding the difference between the two is important for the sake of accuracy.

Naive vs Naivety

The main difference between naive and naivety is that the term ‘naive’ is an adjective that is used to refer to a person who is not mature or experienced enough for their age whereas the term ‘naivety’ is a noun that refers to the overall concept of not being mature or experienced.

Naive and Naivety

The term ‘naive’ has its origins and roots in the French language, according to which it is spelled with two dots on top of the letter ‘I’, as in ‘naïve’. It essentially is a ‘describing word’ used for people who have certain qualities. These may include simplicity, innocence, lack of maturity, and even lack of experience. The term often has a critical connotation.

Meanwhile, the term ‘naivety’ is more of a state rather than a description. It refers to the state of being naive. Like the former, its spelling is supposed to have two dots, as in ‘naïvety’. However, this is ignored in most cases while writing on a keyboard. Furthermore, the meaning of the word is similar to the former.

Comparison Table Between Naive and Naivety

Parameters of ComparisonNaiveNaivety
MeaningIt refers to a person who is immature, or inexperienced.It refers to the state of being naive.
ClassificationIt is an adjective.It is a noun.
ConnotationIt is often used to indicate innocence or a child-like quality.It is often used to indicate gullibility.
Original SpellingIt was originally spelled as ‘naïve’.It was originally spelt as ‘naïveté’.
DerivationIt is a French word taken directly into the English language.It is an English word derived from a French word.

What is Naive?

The term ‘naive’ is an English word that was taken as a direct loan from the French language, without any changes. Therefore, the original spelling of the word is ‘naïve’. However, for the sake of convenience, most people choose not to add two dots on top of the letter ‘I’. This French word in turn was borrowed from the Latin word ‘nativus’ which means natural.

The adjective was originally used to describe a person who is innocent or child-like. Such a person is pure at heart and does not think of the world as evil. However, throughout the years of its usage, it had different connotations and meanings. Nowadays, a naive person is someone who is immature. When used in professional settings, it refers to a person who does not have enough wisdom or experience.

Earlier, the term did not really have a negative connotation. It was used for people who had a natural quality to them such as intuitiveness, like a child. Many people would often consider it to be a compliment. However, nowadays it is often used with a critical tone. People who do not act like their age or are not experienced enough to hold a position in a corporation are called naive.

What is Naivety?

Unlike the former, the term ‘naivety’ is derived from the French word ‘naïveté’ with some changes in spelling and accents. Again, this is easier for the masses to understand and use in normal conversations. Especially those who are not familiar with the French language. The word has Latin roots as well.

‘Naivety’ is a noun, which means that it cannot be used to describe someone. It refers to a state of being naive. If a person is immature, inexperienced, or not wise, he is naive. However, the entire concept of having these qualities is referred to as naivety.

The word originally did not have negative connotations. It was merely used to describe someone’s child-like innocence. However, nowadays it is used with a negative and critical connotation almost all the time. A person who gets influenced easily or is gullible enough to trust anyone without a second thought falls under this category. His state of being with these qualities is termed naivety.

Regardless, the term can be used subjectively by people as per their intentions. People may use it in its old sense for an innocent person. They may even use it in a critical tone to make some self-aware of their behavior so as to push them towards change.

Main Differences Between Naive and Naivety

  1. Naive refers to a person who is immature, or inexperienced whereas naivety refers to the state of being naive.
  2. Naive is an adjective whereas naivety is a noun.
  3. Naive is often used to indicate innocence or a child-like quality whereas naivety is often used to indicate gullibility.
  4. Naive was originally spelt as ‘naïve’ whereas naivety was originally spelt as ‘naïveté’.
  5. Naive is a French word taken directly into the English language whereas naivety is an English word derived from a French word.


Naive and naivety are two terms that sound very similar. Most people fail to make a difference between them regardless of their different spelling. However, for the sake of accuracy, while speaking and writing, it is important to know their distinguishing factors.

Firstly, ‘naive’ is an adjective that means that it is used to describe a person. It refers to an immature person or someone who is inexperienced. Meanwhile, ‘naivety’ is a noun that describes the state or nature of something. It merely refers to the state of being naive. To make this clear, a person is naive, and his naivety often gets him into trouble.

Moreover, naive is taken directly from the French language without any modifications. Naivety is taken from the French language as well, however, it went through many changes in spelling and accents. Lastly, ‘naive’ is mostly used with a positive or neutral connotation whereas naivety is used while being critical of someone.


  1. https://stemcellsjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/stem.2085
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1934590914004640
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