Definition of amateur
- She played soccer as an amateur before turning professional.
- a tournament that is open to both amateurs and professionals
- The people running that company are a bunch of amateurs.
- He's a mere amateur when it comes to cooking.
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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.
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