Paul Schumann, editor and publisher of the Innovation Road Map describes the linguistic origins of innovation, creativity and ingenuity:
“Innovation, innovate, innovator, innovant, innovative, innovatory, renovate, novation, these are but a few forms of the central concept within innovation – nova. Nova is Latin but it originates from the Indo-European neuos. Neuos meant new or now…….
Innovation has a prefix and a suffix. The prefix in- has its roots in the Indo-European word en. En meant in, within or into. My guess is that its use in innovation implies that what is shining comes from within. The suffix -ion is used to note action or condition. This may be the root of one of the confusions about the use of the word innovation. It refers to both result and the result’s way of becoming, how it came into existence. ……..
Innovation and creativity are often confused, and probably for good reason. Creativity comes from the Indo-European root ker, a prolific root. Shipley lists seven major groups of words that come from ker taking seven and one half pages to describe. He states that creativity comes from the sixth group in which ker means to grow. The Greek word khorus comes from that root meaning youth. And, the Latin goddess of growth was Ceres. Derivatives in this root have the implication of “springing forth”. Cereal, increment, and creature also follow this root. Three of the other seven groups have related meanings – bend, move, turn around; cut, pluck, gather; and harm, destroy……..
Another related concept is ingenuity. It come from the very prolific Indo-European root gn. This root goes right to the core issue, the generative. It has come to mean clever, original, inventive, and resourceful. Shipley states that gn (or gen) has two meanings that are intertwined – to beget and to know. Words like generate, genitals, generation, gender, and pregnant have to do with begetting. Through the Greek, gn became gnosis, knowledge, and our congnition, prognosis, diagnosis. Through Latin we get ignore, ignorance. Through the Germanic gn became kn and ken from which we get kin that are the result of kindling, and of course knowledge……….
Innovation at its core is all about information, usually data or knowledge. And, we have four methods of innovating – discover, invent, adapt, and adopt. We can adopt an innovation in a new setting where it becomes new again. We can adapt an existing innovation into a new application. We can invent, which strictly means combining existing information to new ways. Or, we can discover new information through searching deliberately.”
Source: Paul Schumann (2004), Defining Innovation, The Innovation Roadmap