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

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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

While the men’s league draws huge crowds and brings in millions of dollars, female players are amateurs and get about 3,000 pesos (about $82) for travel expenses at a first division club. Debora Rey, The Seattle Times, "Argentine women fight against inequality in soccer," 7 Nov. 2018 Lavender from Modern Sprout Modern Sprout has a wonderfully wide assortment of flora for the amateur, indoor-horticulturist; from a self-watering cilantro-growing kit to a table-top mossarium. Marley Marius, Vogue, "8 Botanical Valentine’s Day Gifts That Aren’t Bouquets," 17 Jan. 2019 For an enthusiastic amateur like me, filling my cloud storage or my phone with huge video files just meant more work maintaining storage. Alexander George, Popular Mechanics, "GoPro Hero 7 Hands-On: The Action Camera Built for Pros," 20 Sep. 2018 The American armed forces and Australian police provided several helpers, but the mission appears to have been led by the BCRC amateurs, who eventually numbered seven. The Economist, "A cave rescue in Thailand shows Britain’s skill at spelunking," 11 July 2018 Chefs sought for Lima Bean Cook-off The San Dieguito Heritage Ranch is looking for amateur, professional and children’s chefs to compete in their 9th annual Lima Bean Cookoff from noon to 4 p.m. May 19. Linda Mcintosh, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Kids gardening class focuses on Bugs ... community events," 4 May 2018 That’s largely because amateurs are more open to unorthodox sources of information and can more freely update their predictions without fear of appearing inconsistent. Jason Zweig, WSJ, "Upside Earnings Surprises Have a Downside," 16 Nov. 2018 And chemical and electrical performance enhancers, legal or otherwise, are becoming more, not less, common as amateurs increasingly follow in the tracks of the pros. Umair Irfan, Vox, "Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte broke doping rules. It happens far more than you think.," 24 July 2018 The vast majority of Bay Area cities don’t allow amateurs to buy or set off fireworks, and for good reasons. SFChronicle.com, "Last Word: Too many bombs bursting in air," 6 July 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.

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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

4 Mar 2019

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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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