amateur

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

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 How to pronounce amateurish (audio) , -​ˈt(y)u̇r-​ , -​ˈchu̇r-​ , -​ˈchər-​ \ adjective
amateurishly adverb
amateurishness noun
amateurism \ ˈa-​mə-​ˌtər-​ˌi-​zəm How to pronounce amateurism (audio) , -​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

Scientists completely missed STEVEs until amateurs brought the odd lights to their attention. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "The Science Behind Earth's Strangest Light Phenomena," 29 Apr. 2019 But honestly, my nerves were worse in the amateurs. Shawn Mcfarland, courant.com, "Hartford's Richard Rivera Wins ABF Continental Americas Cruiserweight Belt At Fight Night At The Capital," 17 June 2018 Paul Casey got stuck, as did amateurs like Jacob Bergeron. Charles Curtis, For The Win, "The U.S. Open's biggest challenge may be beating the traffic to Shinnecock Hills," 13 June 2018 Cole received an $8 million signing bonus, the largest given to an amateur at the time. Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY, "Will Trevor Bauer-Gerrit Cole beef ever die? 'Not going to happen,' says one," 24 May 2018 Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll, author of the immortal Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass and a gifted amateur photographer, had an eye for little girls that, in 2018, takes on a disquieting aspect. Hamish Bowles, Vogue, "What to See at The European Fine Art Fair This Weekend," 4 May 2018 Shortstop Carlos Correa, the first overall selection of the 2012 amateur draft, was an unexpected pick that was made based on glowing reports from scouts rather than on Nerd Cave number-crunching. Paul Dickson, WSJ, "‘Astroball’ Review: Lone Star Turnaround," 16 July 2018 Although OpenAI’s bots have previously beaten top pros in 1v1 matches and teams of skilled amateurs in 5v5 matches, these were comparatively simpler games. James Vincent, The Verge, "Humans grab victory in first of three Dota 2 matches against OpenAI," 23 Aug. 2018 Ninety-five-year-old Easton Roy -- thought to be the world's oldest amateur rugby player -- has mastered both. Zahid Mahmood, CNN, "Oldest winger in town: Veteran rugby player, 95, still scoring," 13 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

13 May 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 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

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

highly pertinent or appropriate

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time traveler quiz which word came first
  • Which came first?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

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!