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 Woods made his PGA Tour debut at Riviera as a 16-year-old amateur in 1992 but has never won at the Pacific Palisades venue. Rob Hodgetts, CNN, "Tiger Woods hits supernatural 'Kobe Bryant' putt," 14 Feb. 2020 Xavier Prep One of the top female amateurs in the nation, who became the Division I individual state championship runner-up for the first time in her high school career in 2019, led Xavier Prep to second place in the state championship. Dana Scott, azcentral, "2019 All-Arizona girls golf team, girls Golfer of the Year nominees, Coach of the Year," 20 Dec. 2019 But amateurs are more than welcome to enjoy the ice as well. Steven Martinez, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Check out these 6 cheap (or free) indoor and outdoor ice skating rinks in the Milwaukee suburbs," 18 Dec. 2019 Aided by Ian McDiarmid’s skillful portrayal, Palpatine makes Supreme Leader Snoke look like a rank amateur at Dark Side manipulation., "What we know about Emperor Palpatine — and how he could impact Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker," 1 Nov. 2019 The Marlins front office features several members with Yankees ties, including Daniel Greenlee (director of player personnel), DJ Shivlik (director of amateur scouting) and Fernando Seguigniol (director of international operations). Wells Dusenbury,, "Upgrading bullpen a key focus for Marlins — and bringing back Sergio Romo could be in the mix," 9 Dec. 2019 Teams were wary of signing Keuchel to a long-term contract and losing a draft pick to do so, which led to Keuchel remaining on the market past the 2019 amateur draft in June. Kerry Crowley, The Mercury News, "Multiple trade deadline decisions improved Giants’ case to re-sign Madison Bumgarner," 13 Aug. 2019 Fiona Hill, a former White House foreign policy advisor, said Sondland was a loose-lipped amateur who posed a security risk. oregonlive, "Sondland did describe Trump deal with Ukraine as a quid pro quo: lawyer," 27 Oct. 2019 But when the Open Era started in 1968, pros were allowed to play with amateurs., "NEW YORK — Andrés Gimeno, a lanky Spanish tennis player who in 1972 became the oldest man to win the men’s singles championship at the French Open, died Oct. 9 in Barcelona. He was 82.," 25 Oct. 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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Time Traveler for amateur

Time Traveler

The first known use of amateur was in 1777

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Statistics for amateur

Last Updated

18 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Amateur.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for amateur


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



Kids Definition of amateur (Entry 2 of 2)

: not professional amateur athletes

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