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

Other Words from amateur

amateur adjective
an amateur athlete
amateurish \ ˌa-​mə-​ˈchər-​ish , -​ˈchu̇r-​ , -​ˈtər-​ , -​ˈtu̇r-​ How to pronounce amateur (audio) , -​ˈtyu̇r \ adjective
amateurishly adverb
amateurishness noun
amateurism \ ˈa-​mə-​chər-​ˌi-​zəm , -​ˌchu̇r-​ , -​(ˌ)tər-​ How to pronounce amateur (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 Ross held an advanced amateur radio license and contributed to a national magazine on consumer electronics. Selome Hailu, Variety, 22 June 2022 Ross had an advanced amateur radio license and was a contributing author to a national magazine on consumer electronics. Mike Barnes, The Hollywood Reporter, 22 June 2022 Born in Washington to a doctor and an amateur singer, Walker was a dapper man who received many commissions and honors during his lifetime. Barbara Jepson, WSJ, 21 June 2022 Many Israelis long considered Mr. Lapid — a former amateur boxer — a political lightweight, particularly with regard to handling complex security issues, including countering Iran’s nuclear ambitions. New York Times, 20 June 2022 Domestic Cup competitions around the world are modeled on the same David vs. Goliath structure, with amateur, semi-pro and top-tier professional teams competing against one another for the same prize. Kevin Baxter, Los Angeles Times, 20 June 2022 While the Chinese likely spotted the Comet Thatcher meteor shower centuries ago, New Yorker Alfred E. Thatcher, an amateur astronomer, is given the credit for officially spotting and then naming it in 1861. Tim Newcomb, Popular Mechanics, 19 Apr. 2022 On Sunday, July 17, the league will also host the MLB amateur draft on Xbox Plaza outside the Microsoft Theater. Jack Harris, Los Angeles Times, 3 May 2022 Tigers rookie Spencer Torkelson, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 amateur draft, cleared the fences for the first time in the majors with a two-run homer in the seventh to cut the deficit to 9-4. Larry Lage, Hartford Courant, 13 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of amateur

1757, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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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The first known use of amateur was in 1757

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amate

amateur

amateur band

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Last Updated

26 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Amateur.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/amateur. Accessed 3 Jul. 2022.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on amateur

Nglish: Translation of amateur for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of amateur for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about amateur

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