amateur

noun
am·​a·​teur | \ ˈa-mə-(ˌ)tər, -ˌtu̇r, -ˌtyu̇r, -ˌchu̇r, -chər \

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-​ˈtər-​ish , -​ˈt(y)u̇r-​, -​ˈchu̇r-​, -​ˈchər-​ \ adjective
amateurishly adverb
amateurishness noun
amateurism \ ˈa-​mə-​ˌtər-​ˌi-​zəm , -​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

But there is no better software package for amateur and pro photographers — or aspiring meme creators who just really like to mess around on Photoshop. Nick Statt, The Verge, "The first 11 apps to install on your new Mac," 27 Dec. 2018 The result has subjected victims and the accused to a system of campus justice often controlled by amateurs and political activists. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Reviving Due Process on Campus," 20 Nov. 2018 She's competed at both the amateur and professional levels. Kaitlyn Schallhorn, Fox News, "Who is Sharice Davids, the Kansas congressional candidate who could make history?," 9 Aug. 2018 The photos were taken by both amateur and professional photographers, who braved frigid weather, trekked through dense forests and walked across wetlands to capture the perfect shots of our fine feathered friends. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Peep the Stunning Winners of the Audubon Society’s Photo Contest," 6 July 2018 Click to Read Story A Golf Obsession With Balance at the Core A competitive amateur athlete abandoned tennis for golf years ago, but has reached a new level of fitness on the links with a stability ball. Jen Murphy, WSJ, "The Chef Who Left His Kitchen To Keep Off 200 Pounds," 1 Dec. 2018 Gold Rush's Todd Hoffman is launching a reality show about amateur miners. Eileen Reslen, Country Living, "'Gold Rush' Star Todd Hoffman Is Creating a New Reality Competition Show," 28 Oct. 2018 Click to Read Story A Golf Obsession With Balance at the Core A competitive amateur athlete abandoned tennis for golf years ago, but has reached a new level of fitness on the links with a stability ball. Jen Murphy, WSJ, "The Chef Who Left His Kitchen To Keep Off 200 Pounds," 1 Dec. 2018 The category is intended for (wealthy) amateurs, so the cars offer features like antilock brakes (usually banned in racing) and traction control. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "Open mind, wide open throttle: We go to our first NASCAR race," 15 Nov. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about amateur

Statistics for amateur

Last Updated

7 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for amateur

The first known use of amateur was in 1777

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for amateur

amateur

noun
am·​a·​teur | \ ˈam-ə-ˌtər, -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

Keep scrolling for more

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

tremendous in size, volume, or degree

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three-bears-two-of-them-look-like-theyre-whispering-to-a-third-bear-who-looks-chuffed-to-be-the-center-of-attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

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!