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

Keep scrolling for more

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 The Patch is a favorite hangout for Tommy Bennett, who in 1995 caddied for a 19-year-old amateur named Tiger Woods, playing in his first Masters. Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times, "Elite Black caddies, once key advisors to Masters winners, have faded from spotlight," 10 Apr. 2021 White will compete alongside the No. 1 amateur in the world, Rose Zhang, and Emily Pedersen, who ended her 2020 season on the Ladies European Tour with three consecutive victories. Beth Ann Nichols, The Arizona Republic, "Sarah White personifies 'road warrior' life on golf's Symetra Tour, opening season in Mesa," 18 Mar. 2021 The amateur videographer did not want to be named for fear of reprisals. Reuters Staff, The Christian Science Monitor, "With Myanmar media under pressure, livestreams become essential," 26 Feb. 2021 Cușnir would bicycle from town to town with his Soviet Lyubitel, or amateur, camera, interspersing his professional work with personal shots of the villagers and moments in their lives — celebrations, weddings and, sometimes, funerals. Washington Post, "In a forgotten attic, a Moldovan photographer found 4,000 images of vanished village life," 24 Feb. 2021 Not one of the several people on the sidewalk near the amateur videographer shows the slightest inclination to help the officers. Rich Lowry, National Review, "A Shameful Attack on the Police," 15 Sep. 2020 Each film channels the gaze of an amateur—which is to say, a gaze tuned like a radio channel to the affective nuances of daily living: amusement, awkwardness, delight, and the extravagant devotion of love. Krista Stevens, Longreads, "Where ‘Strangers Whisper Secrets in Your Ear’," 10 Aug. 2020 The 356 was a huge hit with amateur and semi-pro race drivers, and this particular example was no different. Bryan Hood, Robb Report, "You Can Now Add This Rare 1956 Porsche 356A Ice Racer to Your Collection for $312,000," 23 Apr. 2021 Nola was the seventh overall pick in the 2014 amateur draft and quickly reached the majors the following year. Star Tribune, "Nola pitches 1st 9-inning shutout, Phillies beat Cards 2-0," 18 Apr. 2021

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

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.

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about amateur

Time Traveler for amateur

Time Traveler

The first known use of amateur was in 1777

See more words from the same year

Statistics for amateur

Last Updated

9 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Amateur.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/amateur. Accessed 15 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

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

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

Test Your Vocabulary

Words Used by Nabokov Quiz

  • image1676440788
  • Choose the best definition or synonym for the word in bold: "There are some eructations that sound like cheers—at least, mine did." Lolita
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Typeshift

Anagram puzzles meet word search.

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!