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


noun dil·et·tante \ˈdi-lə-ˌtänt, -ˌtant; ˌdi-lə-ˈ\

Simple Definition of dilettante

  • : a person whose interest in an art or in an area of knowledge is not very deep or serious

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of dilettante





play play \-ˈtän-tē, -ˈtan-tē\
  1. 1 :  an admirer or lover of the arts

  2. 2 :  a person having a superficial interest in an art or a branch of knowledge :  dabbler




play \-ˌtän-tish, -ˌtan-, ˌdi-lə-ˈ\ adjective


play \-ˌtän-ˌti-zəm, -ˌtan-, ˌdi-lə-ˈ\ noun

Examples of dilettante in a sentence

  1. I recently spent a week in Alaska trying to learn how to be a mountaineer. I did not succeed very well, and the details are not very interesting. I finished the course (I was enrolled in a course) thinking that perhaps I am better off remaining a slightly-above-average mountain dilettante. An occasional rock climber. —Jason Lee Steorts, National Review, 18 Aug. 2008

  2. Being a powerhouse herself in ways that make today's feminist superwomen look like dilettantes, she inevitably clashed with star directors like Maurice Tourneur and Ernst Lubitsch. —Molly Haskell, New York Times Book Review, 6 June 1999

  3. Most of the articles published in Naval History reflect time-consuming research and investigation. The efforts are not the work of dilettantes, but of professional and semiprofessional historians. —Michael M. Bergfeld, Naval History, July/August 1997

  4. You can always tell a true expert from a dilettante.

  5. <she writes about art not from the point of view of an artist but from that of a committed dilettante>

Origin and Etymology of dilettante

Italian, from present participle of dilettare to delight, from Latin dilectare — more at delight

First Known Use: 1748

Synonym Discussion of dilettante

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>.

Other Fine Arts Terms

Rhymes with dilettante

bon vivant, commandant, complaisant, debridement, debutant, debutante, John of Gaunt, intrigant, nonchalant, poste restante, symbiont

Seen and Heard

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


a block used as a base for a statue

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which of these is a synonym of namby-pamby?

insightful insipid lithe energetic
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


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