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

Definition of amateur 

1 : one who engages in a pursuit, study, science, or sport as a pastime rather than as a profession She played soccer as an amateur before turning professional. a tournament that is open to both amateurs and professionals

2 : one lacking in experience and competence in an art or science The people running that company are a bunch of amateurs. He's a mere amateur when it comes to cooking.

3 : devotee, admirer I am a philologist or amateur of the language …— Phillip Howard

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Other Words from amateur

amateur adjective
an amateur athlete
amateurish \ˌa-mə-ˈtər-ish, -ˈt(y)u̇r-, -ˈchu̇r-, -ˈchər- \ adjective
amateurishly adverb
amateurishness noun
amateurism \ˈa-mə-ˌtər-ˌi-zəm, -ˌt(y)u̇r-, -ˌchu̇r-, -ˌchər-; -ˌtə-ˌri-, -ˌchə-ˌri- \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Should amateur only be used literally?

The earliest sense of amateur ("one that has a marked fondness, liking, or taste") is strongly connected to its roots: the word came into English from the French amateur, which in turn comes from the Latin word for “lover” (amator). This has led some people to assume that the word is properly used only in the sense “one who performs something for love rather than for money.” However, as is the case with so many other English words, amateur may mean two strikingly different things, referring to one who does something for the love of it and also to one who is not terribly competent at something.

Our earliest record of the word's literal sense comes from a 1777 source. By 1790, however, it was already being used in the somewhat condescending extended sense, as seen in George Rous’s description of Edmund Burke as “a bystander, a mere amateur of aristocracy” in his Thoughts on Government.

Examples of amateur in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Wall Street money managers are not used to standing on the sidelines while amateurs get rich off something the pros don’t really understand, or worst yet, own. Omid Malekan, New York Times, "If Fund Managers Back Bitcoin," 27 June 2018 Cubs fans can get a closer look at their future after Nico Hoerner, the team’s first-round pick in last month’s amateur draft, was promoted Thursday from short-season Class A Eugene (Ore.) to Class A South Bend (Ind.). Mark Gonzales,, "Cubs promote first-round draft pick Nico Hoerner to Class A South Bend," 12 July 2018 Turang, 18, was selected 21st overall by the Brewers in last month's amateur draft for a reported $3,411,100. Todd Rosiak, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Brewers sign first-round pick Brice Turang, a high school shortstop from California," 6 July 2018 Messenger was an 11th-round pick of the then-Florida Marlins in the 1999 amateur draft. New York Times, "A 50-Year-Old Japanese Baseball Record Unites Two American Pitchers," 3 July 2018 The 31-year-old began his professional career with the New York Mets after being selected in the 13th round of the 2005 amateur draft., "Regional Digest: Governor's Cup Roster Announced For Connecticut," 26 June 2018 By finishing with the worst record, the Orioles, and not one of the teams accused of tanking, would receive the first pick in the 2019 amateur draft. Eduardo A. Encina,, "Series against Marlins pits major league-worst Orioles vs. team that was accused of trying to tank," 15 June 2018 Last week, Granberg was selected by the Boston Red Sox in the sixth round of the 2018 Major League Baseball amateur draft. William Wilkerson, star-telegram, "Dallas Baptist outfielder beats out two Big 12 stars for Bobby Bragan Collegiate Slugger Award," 12 June 2018 Daniels has maintained for a month now that the Rangers will listen to offers if others come along, but there was little in the way of conversation while teams prepared for the amateur draft. Tribune News Service,, "MLB trade rumors: Will the Seattle Mariners try to acquire Cole Hamels?," 11 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'amateur.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of amateur

1777, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for amateur

French, from Latin amator lover, from amare to love

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Phrases Related to amateur

amateur dramatic

amateur dramatics

Statistics for amateur

Last Updated

14 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for amateur

The first known use of amateur was in 1777

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More Definitions for amateur


am·a·teur | \ˈam-ə-ˌtər, -ˌchər\

Kids Definition of amateur

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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

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

Other Words from amateur

amateurish \ˌam-ə-ˈtər-ish, -ˈchər- \ adjective an amateurish actor



Kids Definition of amateur (Entry 2 of 2)

: not professional amateur athletes

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