amateur

noun
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

Click to Read Story A Golf Obsession With Balance at the Core A competitive amateur athlete abandoned tennis for golf years ago, but has reached a new level of fitness on the links with a stability ball. Jen Murphy, WSJ, "The Chef Who Left His Kitchen To Keep Off 200 Pounds," 1 Dec. 2018 The category is intended for (wealthy) amateurs, so the cars offer features like antilock brakes (usually banned in racing) and traction control. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "Open mind, wide open throttle: We go to our first NASCAR race," 15 Nov. 2018 The perpetual silver trophy will be engraved with the champion's name, and the low amateur's name will also be engraved onto the Harry Pitt Trophy. baltimoresun.com, "Digest (July 7): Capitals' Alex Ovechkin shows off Stanley Cup at World Cup," 7 July 2018 Maryland's second subpoena relates to former four-star recruit and current Kansas basketball player Silvio De Sousa, asking the school to produce any documents or communication related to his recruitment, eligibility or amateur status. Tom Schad, USA TODAY, "Maryland confirms school was subpoenaed as part of FBI investigation into college basketball," 6 July 2018 Click to Read Story A Golf Obsession With Balance at the Core A competitive amateur athlete abandoned tennis for golf years ago, but has reached a new level of fitness on the links with a stability ball. Jen Murphy, WSJ, "Her Exercise? Picking Up Everyone’s Litter," 19 Nov. 2018 This flat, fast course through Philly’s neighborhoods and alongside its iconic Schuylkill River attracts thousands of pro and amateur participants—and thousands more spectators—every year. Jenny Mccoy, SELF, "4 Ways to Get Into the NYC Marathon—Plus 4 Marathons That Are Much Easier to Enter," 6 Nov. 2018 Celia Barquin Arozamena was a top amateur golfer from Spain who was finishing her degree at Iowa State University. Fox News, "Slain golfer, suspect lived contrasting lives in Iowa city," 19 Sep. 2018 Chao noted that the bulk of neurostimulator sales go to amateur athletes. Umair Irfan, Vox, "Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte broke doping rules. It happens far more than you think.," 24 July 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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Statistics for amateur

Last Updated

9 Dec 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

amateur

noun
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

amateur

adjective

Kids Definition of amateur (Entry 2 of 2)

: not professional amateur athletes

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Comments on amateur

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