noun am·a·teur \ ˈa-mə-(ˌ)tər , -ˌtu̇r , -ˌtyu̇r , -ˌchu̇r , -chər \
|Updated on: 19 Aug 2018

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


    • an amateur athlete


play \ˌa-mə-ˈtər-ish, -ˈt(y)u̇r-, -ˈchu̇r-, -ˈchər-\ adjective






play \ˈa-mə-ˌtər-ˌi-zəm, -ˌt(y)u̇r-, -ˌchu̇r-, -ˌchər-; -ˌtə-ˌri-, -ˌchə-ˌri-\ noun

Recent Examples of amateur from the Web

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.

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.

Origin and Etymology of amateur

French, from Latin amator lover, from amare to love

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 for Students

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


\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.




Definition of amateur for Students

: not professional
  • amateur athletes

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very hard to disturb or upset

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