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 Trump has his presidential dress over his presidential head about Woodward’s new book, Rage, which depicts Trump as a dishonest, bumbling amateur who is in over his head. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, "To Out-Nixon Nixon," 10 Sep. 2020 Clark said participants can range anywhere from a beginning student to a serious amateur. Alvaro Montano, Houston Chronicle, "Pearl Fincher Museum of Fine Arts to launch School of Art on heels of successful online gala," 5 Sep. 2020 Impressed with the amateur sting, the professionals were now ready to take over. Peter Van Sant, CBS News, "Former boxer marked for murder goes undercover to catch the person who wanted him dead," 5 Sep. 2020 With a telescope four inches in diameter, which is a modest amateur instrument, the rings will appear clearly separate from the planet. Nicole Clausing, Sunset Magazine, "A Feel-Good Summer Hit, Coming to a Sky Near You," 4 Sep. 2020 Christensen, the low amateur in the recent Utah Open, moved up with a 67 that included birdies on the last three holes. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Long putt helps create 3-way tie for medalist in State Amateur," 3 Sep. 2020 In perhaps the most tragic instance of the danger posed to new traders, earlier this year, a 20-year-old amateur trader died by suicide after his Robinhood dashboard briefly logged a negative balance of $730,000. J.c. Pan, The New Republic, "The Hollow Gospel of Personal Investing Apps," 3 Sep. 2020 Saturday’s performance features Caitlyn Smith, a 2001 winner of the State Fair’s amateur teen talent contest who is now a rising pop-country star in Nashville. Jon Bream, Star Tribune, "Minnesota State Fair to offer three mini-concerts on YouTube this weekend," 31 Aug. 2020 Beth Harmon, an amateur chess player who shows exceptional talent in the game and becomes one of its most prominent players in her area. Ineye Komonibo, refinery29.com, "Netflix’s Psychological Thriller The Queen’s Gambit Is Emma Meets The Talented Mr. Ripley," 27 Aug. 2020

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

borrowed from French, going back to Middle French, "one who loves, lover," borrowed from Latin amātor "lover, enthusiastic admirer, devotee," from amāre "to have affection for, love, be in love, make love to" (of uncertain origin) + -tōr-, -tor, agent suffix

Note: Latin amāre has been explained as an original stative verb with -ē- (hence, *ama-ē-, comparable to *sta-ē- > stāre "to stand"), formed from a root present *ama-, going back to an Indo-European verbal base *h2m̥h3- or *h3m̥h3- "take hold of, grasp" (whence also Sanskrit ámīti "takes hold of, swears," Greek ómnymi, omnýnai "to affirm with an oath," presumably originally "hold fast to an object while swearing"). Semantically the development in Latin is hypothetically "to grasp the hand of" > "to treat as a friend" > "to love." Supporting the presence of the verbal base in Italic would be the form amatens, allegedly, "(they) have seized" or "they have received" in a Sabellic text (the Aes Rapinum of the ancient Marrucini). According to an older theory amāre may be linked to a group of expressive/nursery words, as Latin amita "aunt," *amma "mother" (presumed from derivatives in personal names), Oscan ammai (dative singular) "mother." Another point of comparison with amāre has been Old Irish námae (genitive námat) "enemy," if it goes back to a participial formation *n(e)-h2m̥h3-(e)nt- "not loving" (compare Latin inimicus enemy), though the verbal base *h2emh3- is not otherwise attested in this or any other sense in Celtic. Concerning the derivative amīcus "friend" see note at amiable.

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Time Traveler for amateur

Time Traveler

The first known use of amateur was in 1777

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Last Updated

17 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Amateur.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/amateur. Accessed 26 Sep. 2020.

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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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