‘Nieve’ or ‘Naive’: How to Spell It Correctly

By Shanea Patterson, updated on November 21, 2022

If someone believes everything they hear, are they ‘nieve’ or ‘naïve’? Struggling with the correct spelling of this word? We’ll cover that in this article, plus teach you how to use the word correctly in a sentence.

But the short answer is that the correct spelling is ‘naïve.’ Any other spelling of the word is incorrect. However, sometimes the word has two dots over the ‘I’ in the word. It’s called a diaeresis. The mark is placed over a vowel to indicate that the vowel is pronounced in a separate syllable.

‘Naïve’ Definition and Meaning

Before we go into detail about the correct spelling, let’s quickly define the word.

The Merriam-Webster definition of the word is: “marked by unaffected simplicity: artless, ingenious,” “deficient in worldly wisdom or informed judgment,” “credulous,” “not previously subjected to experimentation or a particular experimental situation,” “not having been exposed previously to an antigen,” “self-taught, primitive,” and “produced by or as if by a self-taught artist.”

Some synonyms of the word include:

  • Green
  • Simple
  • Unknowing
  • Unsuspicious
  • Wide-eyed
  • Dewy
  • Ingenuous
  • Simpleminded
  • Unsophisticated
  • Unwary
  • Innocent
  • Primitive
  • Uncritical
  • Unsuspecting
  • Unworldly

A Brief History 

The word ‘naïve’ comes from the French word naïve, which is the feminine of naif. Its origins can be traced back to the Latin nativus, which means native.

The first known use of the word was in 1614, and it meant the same thing it does today.

‘Nieve’ vs. ‘Naïve’ 

So, you’ve already learned that the correct spelling of the word is ‘naïve.’ You might be tempted to spell it ‘nieve,’ but that would be incorrect.

‘Nieve’ – Common Errors in English Usage 

It’s not uncommon for people to misspell the word ‘naïve’ and spell it ‘nieve’ instead. But you’ve already learned the correct spelling, so be sure to always follow that spelling.

Understanding the Diaeresis

As we discussed briefly above, the word ‘naïve’ sometimes contains two dots above the ‘I.’ And most people have no idea what that symbol means.

Let’s briefly discuss it.

A diaeresis is simply a mark that’s placed over a vowel to let you know that the vowel is pronounced in a separate syllable.

It’s similar to Bronte, which also has two dots above one of the vowels in the word (the ‘e’).

How to Use the Word in a Sentence 

Now we’ve defined the word and learned about its origins. Let’s talk about how to use it correctly in a sentence.

Take a look at a few examples of how you’d use it in a sentence.

  • I was pretty naïve when I was younger; I thought everything would come easy for me.
  • She’s 90 years old and still way too naïve.
  • Of course, she’s naïve; she’s in kindergarten.
  • That girl is so naïve she believes everything her friends tell her.
  • Are you really naïve enough to think everyone is going to be nice?

Concluding Advice on ‘Nieve’ and ‘Naïve’

To recap, we’ve learned that ‘naive is the correct way to spell the word and that any other spelling of the word would be incorrect.

It’s a bit trickier than a lot of the words in the English language, similar to words like ‘niece’ and ‘column.’

If you find yourself struggling, don’t be afraid to come back here and browse our library of articles dedicated to explaining confusing words and phrases.

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Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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