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 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. BostonGlobe.com, "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 But when the Open Era started in 1968, pros were allowed to play with amateurs. Richard Sandomir, New York Times, "Andrés Gimeno, Who Broke French Open Age Mark, Dies at 82," 21 Oct. 2019 Zhang was the second-low amateur in this year’s U.S. Women’s Open at the Country Club of Charleston, finishing tied for 55th. Lori Riley, courant.com, "Girls Junior PGA championship set to tee off Tuesday at Keney Park golf course," 8 July 2019 By 1900, Europe and the United States are covered in stations maintained by academics and amateurs, government workers and monks. Washington Post, "How we know global warming is real," 19 Dec. 2019 But if Stoll is a cybersecurity amateur, few experts have had as much influence on the field. Andy Greenberg, Wired, "Meet The Mad Scientist Who Wrote the Book on How to Hunt Hackers," 18 Dec. 2019 Joanne needs to be prepped and ready to go — this is no role for a stammering amateur. BostonGlobe.com, "Need advice? Submit questions for Miss Conduct here.," 14 Sep. 2019 Catherine was a gifted amateur who’d started painting with Georgia in Wisconsin, in 1928. Roxana Robinson, The New Yorker, "The Rivalry Between Georgia O’Keeffe and Her Sister Ida," 4 Sep. 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

7 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Amateur.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/amateurishly. Accessed 17 January 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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