Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


noun am·a·teur \ˈa-mə-(ˌ)tər, -ˌtu̇r, -ˌtyu̇r, -ˌchu̇r, -chər\

Simple Definition of amateur

  • : a person who does something (such as a sport or hobby) for pleasure and not as a job

  • : a person who does something poorly : a person who is not skillful at a job or other activity

Full Definition of amateur

  1. 1 :  devotee, admirer

  2. 2 :  one who engages in a pursuit, study, science, or sport as a pastime rather than as a profession

  3. 3 :  one lacking in experience and competence in an art or science

amateur adjective
am·a·teur·ishplay \ˌa-mə-ˈtər-ish, -ˈt(y)u̇r-, -ˈchu̇r-, -ˈchər-\ adjective
am·a·teur·ish·ly adverb
am·a·teur·ish·ness noun
am·a·teur·ismplay \ˈa-mə-ˌtər-ˌi-zəm, -ˌt(y)u̇r-, -ˌchu̇r-, -ˌchər-; -ˌtə-ˌri-, -ˌchə-ˌri-\ noun

Examples of amateur

  1. She played soccer as an amateur before turning professional.

  2. These photos were taken by both amateurs and professionals.

  3. The people running that company are a bunch of amateurs.

  4. Only amateurs make this kind of mistake.

Origin of amateur

French, from Latin amator lover, from amare to love

First Known Use: 1777

Synonym Discussion of amateur

amateur, dilettante, dabbler, tyro mean a person who follows a pursuit without attaining proficiency or professional status. amateur often applies to one practicing an art without mastery of its essentials <a painting obviously done by an amateur>; in sports it may also suggest not so much lack of skill but avoidance of direct remuneration <remained an amateur despite lucrative offers>. dilettante may apply to the lover of an art rather than its skilled practitioner but usually implies elegant trifling in the arts and an absence of serious commitment <had no patience for dilettantes>. dabbler suggests desultory habits of work and lack of persistence <a dabbler who started novels but never finished them>. tyro implies inexperience often combined with audacity with resulting crudeness or blundering <shows talent but is still a mere tyro>.

AMATEUR Defined for Kids



noun am·a·teur \ˈam-ə-ˌtər, -ˌchər\

Definition of amateur

  1. 1 :  a person who takes part in sports or occupations for pleasure and not for pay

  2. 2 :  a person who takes part in something without having experience or skill in it

am·a·teur·ish \ˌam-ə-ˈtər-ish, -ˈchər-\ adjective <an amateurish actor>

History for amateur

The English word amateur came from a French word which in turn came from a Latin word that meant “lover.” In English, amateurs are so called because they do something for the love of doing it and not for pay.



adjective am·a·teur

Definition of amateur

  1. :  not professional <amateur athletes>

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up amateur? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 9, 2016

marked by high spirits and laughter

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?

duvet spindrift pince-nez kittly-benders
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.