- A person who fails to show gratitude for something
- Displaying the quality of thanklessness (obs.)
- Having a disagreeable or ill-disposed nature (obs.)
Have you ever received a present you didn't really want? Many of us have been given a piece of art or an outfit we just couldn't stand, like that sweater that Grandmother knitted with love for your 30th birthday. Of course, the right thing to do is to accept the gift with open arms and thank Grandmother because we don't want to seem like an ingrate by not accepting her gifts or giving her a piece of our minds the next time she buys us a funky hat. Even though we might not like certain gifts, it's really the thought that counts. And for that, we are truly grateful!
The word ingrate denotes a person who is not thankful for something they have received or something that was done for them. Although we might automatically think of a gift exchange where someone is ungrateful, an ingrate can be found in all different circumstances. For example, say you are driving and you let someone into your lane; however, they fail to wave their thanks to you. Now stuck in traffic, you think to yourself, "What an ingrate! He would've been waiting forever if I didn't let him go!" You are disappointed because you had expected your good deed to be appreciated. Usually, the term ingrate is reserved for people who not only do not show thanks but also expect the same kindness or continued favors. A coworker who offered to work extra hours during a busy time might now be expected to work late by her boss, an ingrate, who also fails to acknowledge her commitment. However, ingrates are not always insensitive or trying to take advantage of people; sometimes a person may simply forget to send a thank you card!
In somewhat obsoleted usage, ingrate is an adjective to describe someone who is unappreciative or possesses unfavorable qualities. An ingrate teenager would be one who had failed to take care of the car he was given for his graduation. As far as unpleasantness goes, a cat that scratches guests upon meeting them might also be considered a most ingrate animal. Usually, the qualities of thanklessness and unfriendliness go hand in hand, but you could still run into someone who says, "Thank you," in a very nasty way!
Example: Susie proved to be quite an ingrate by taking advantage of her mother's forgiveness.
Example: The ingrate salesman didn't show up to work after receiving his raise.
The noun ingrate, a derivative of the adjective, comes from the Latin word ingratus, literally translated as "not grateful" or "not friendly." We can see ingrate carrying its modern English usage as early as the 17th century. Some Latin enthusiasts might be tempted to think of the term persona non grata when they read the definition of ingrate. However, this phrase denotes a person who is "not welcome" or "not accepted" (e.g. in a team or country). Although an ingrate has the potential to become a persona non grata, we hope that such thanklessness will not turn into hostility.
Ingrately: This adverb describes an action (or state) that is done in an unappreciative way.
Example: The child laughed and ingrately sat in his brother's chair.
Ingratitude: This noun signifies the quality of ungratefulness or thanklessness.
Example: Emily never helps Fred with homework anymore because of his ingratitude.
From Victor Hugo's Les Misérables:
And do you know what he has done for me, Cosette? He has saved my life. He has done more--he has given you to me. And after having saved me, and after having given you to me, Cosette, what has he done with himself? He has sacrificed himself. Behold the man. And he says to me the ingrate, to me the forgetful, to me the pitiless, to me the guilty one: Thanks! Cosette, my whole life passed at the feet of this man would be too little.
Here, Marius Pontmercy is revealing to his love, Cosette, that her adopted father, Jean Valjean, had saved his life. Feeling responsible for taking away Valjean's beloved daughter, Marius finds that he had been an ingrate for not showing gratitude to this man and continuing to cause him emotional pain.
- No one wants an ingrate for a roommate.
Bring out the linguist in you! What is your own interpretation of ingrate. Did you use ingrate in a game? Provide an example sentence or a literary quote.