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

Keep scrolling for more

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

That’s largely because amateurs are more open to unorthodox sources of information and can more freely update their predictions without fear of appearing inconsistent. Jason Zweig, WSJ, "Upside Earnings Surprises Have a Downside," 16 Nov. 2018 And chemical and electrical performance enhancers, legal or otherwise, are becoming more, not less, common as amateurs increasingly follow in the tracks of the pros. Umair Irfan, Vox, "Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte broke doping rules. It happens far more than you think.," 24 July 2018 The vast majority of Bay Area cities don’t allow amateurs to buy or set off fireworks, and for good reasons. SFChronicle.com, "Last Word: Too many bombs bursting in air," 6 July 2018 The day before championship play begins, 56 of the professional golfers will be playing alongside amateurs in the Accenture Championship Pro-Am. Karen Berkowitz, chicagotribune.com, "Highwood traffic disruptions expected during Senior Players Championship at Exmoor Country Club," 3 July 2018 Really, to an amateur's eye, there are few signs that a disaster ever occurred. Rick Montgomery, kansascity, "Tornado sunk this Kansas cruise boat in 1978, killing 16. Owners hope it floats again.," 22 June 2018 In the second round, Cantlay shot a 10-under-par 60, which tied the course record along with setting a PGA Tour mark for low round by an amateur. William S. Paxton, USA TODAY, "Travelers Championship uses exemptions to help boost next generation of stars," 19 June 2018 But Parziale — an amateur out of Thorny Lea Golf Club in Brockton — did. Sophia Eppolito And John Hilliard, BostonGlobe.com, "In Brockton, cheers for local firefighter turned US Open competitor," 18 June 2018 The best aggregate ranking of any group that scored worse than 25-over than without an amateur was Group 2: Scott Stallings, Sebastian Munoz and Matthew Southgate — combined world ranking, 621. Marcus Hayes, Philly.com, "Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth collapse at U.S. Open," 14 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about amateur

Statistics for amateur

Last Updated

4 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for amateur

The first known use of amateur was in 1777

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on amateur

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to deny responsibility for

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What did you just call me?! A Quiz

  • rows-of-various-emoji
  • If a member of the audience describes your speech as bombastic, does that person mean it is:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

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

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!