amateur

noun
am·​a·​teur | \ ˈa-mə-chər How to pronounce amateur (audio) , -ˌchu̇r, -(ˌ)tər How to pronounce amateur (audio) , -ˌtu̇r How to pronounce amateur (audio) , -ˌtyu̇r\

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-​ˈchər-​ish , -​ˈchu̇r-​ , -​ˈtər-​ , -​ˈtu̇r-​ How to pronounce amateurish (audio) , -​ˈtyu̇r \ adjective
amateurishly adverb
amateurishness noun
amateurism \ ˈa-​mə-​chər-​ˌi-​zəm , -​ˌchu̇r-​ , -​(ˌ)tər-​ How to pronounce amateurism (audio) , -​ˌtu̇r-​ , -​ˌtyu̇r-​ \ 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

Golfers Tom Lehman and Viktor Hovland, who was the low amateur in the Masters at Augusta National in April, will speak Tuesday at a Dunkers breakfast at the Minneapolis Club, with former U.S. Amateur champion John Harris as emcee. Charley Walters, Twin Cities, "Charley Walters: Twins’ Derek Falvey, Thad Levine are keepers," 29 June 2019 Stewart Hagestad, the Big Canyon men’s club champion, was the low-amateur at the 2017 Masters and a major contributor to his club’s Jones Cup victory in 2018. Andrew Turner, latimes.com, "Jones Cup celebrates 20 years of signature moments," 26 June 2019 At the midway point, Viktor Hovland of Norway was the top amateur at 1-under 143, while Alvaro Ortiz of Mexico (144), Devon Bling of the United States (147) and Japan’s Takumi Kanaya (147) also earned two more rounds at the year’s first major. Doug Ferguson, The Seattle Times, "Zach Johnson’s practice swing doesn’t miss the ball," 12 Apr. 2019 Feagles jumped 16 places up the standings with his final round 63, the low round of the week, and ended the tournament as the lowest-scoring amateur (14-under 202). Julia Stumbaugh, azcentral, "PGA Tour golfer Charlie Beljan of Mesa win Arizona Open championship," 7 Aug. 2019 But as researchers and digital rights activists note, the open-source community, made up of amateur and independent programmers, is far more organized around making deepfakes persuasive and thus harder to spot. Fortune, "Fighting Deepfakes Gets Real," 24 July 2019 The silver medalist in 2000 when triathlon made its Olympic debut in her native Sydney, Australia, Jones is now an amateur. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Toland, Jones win San Diego International Triathlon," 24 June 2019 The first came in 2016, when Danielson was still an amateur. Jace Frederick, Twin Cities, "U.S. Open golf: Osceola’s Charlie Danielson is back, and better than ever," 12 June 2019 The amateur botanist complained in writing to Deborah Hong, a spokeswoman for the LADWP in Pacific Palisades. Louis Sahagunstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Endangered plants bulldozed in Topanga State Park," 1 Aug. 2019

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

17 Sep 2019

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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 How to pronounce amateur (audio) , -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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