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 Both amateur and professional photographers can submit photos for the 2020 contest in January. David Oliver, USA TODAY, "Exclusive: See the incredible National Wildlife Magazine 2019 photo contest winners," 25 Oct. 2019 The annual race, named after the Olympic cyclist who calls Santa Rosa home, took place earlier this month and attracted both amateur and professional gearheads from all over the world. Matt Villano, SFChronicle.com, "Sonoma is a not-so-secret mecca for endurance athletes," 24 Oct. 2019 Lately, supplying the game’s amateurs and fans has gotten more difficult. Lydia Depillis, ProPublica, "Everything You Need to Play Baseball Is Made in China — and Getting Hit by Trump’s Tariffs," 3 Sep. 2019 This was the first year that the event took on its new name, and also was the first time that professionals and amateurs were allowed to compete together. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "How the U.S. Open Changed the History of Tennis," 1 Sep. 2019 This weekend the Chicago Botanic Garden hosted its annual Kite Festival where professionals and amateurs tested their kite flying abilities. Daniel I. Dorfman, chicagotribune.com, "Chicago Botanic Garden celebrates kites in flight," 13 Aug. 2019 Last year, several sky gazers, both amateur and professional, noticed the Great Red Spot was shrinking. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Hey, What's Up With Jupiter's Great Red Spot?," 12 Aug. 2019 The Lions will host Atlanta United Tuesday in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals, pushing to advance in the tournament that features amateur and professional clubs fighting to be crowned the top soccer team in the United States. Julia Poe, Pro Soccer USA, "Orlando City ready to face rival Atlanta United in U.S. Open Cup semifinal," 2 Aug. 2019 All eight of his pro and amateur victories have been first-round knockouts. Dave Doyle, MMA Junkie, "Greg Hardy can keep winning, but we can't move on from his past just yet | Opinion," 21 July 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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Statistics for amateur

Last Updated

11 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for amateur

The first known use of amateur was in 1777

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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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