dab·​bler ˈda-b(ə-)lər How to pronounce dabbler (audio)
: one that dabbles: such as
: one not deeply engaged in or concerned with something
: a duck (such as a mallard or shoveler) that feeds by dabbling

called also dabbling duck, puddle duck, river duck

Choose the Right Synonym for dabbler

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

Examples of dabbler in a Sentence

he was a dabbler, learning the basics of many arts but mastering none
Recent Examples on the Web Intel, the main dabbler in such CPUs in recent years, pushes the performance envelope with these chips, but without introducing significant changes to the silicon. PCMAG, 10 Apr. 2024 Habitat Both black-bellies and fulvous whistling ducks are classified as dabblers and, therefore, prefer shallow freshwater ponds and marshes. M.d. Johnson, Field & Stream, 10 Jan. 2024 Due to their tall and lanky nature and feet that extend well beyond the body, whistling ducks don’t look very much like their fellow dabblers. M.d. Johnson, Field & Stream, 10 Jan. 2024 Another distinction between the dabblers and divers, albeit to this writer an unfair assumption, is that puddle ducks make for much better table fare than do divers simply due to diets. M.d. Johnson, Field & Stream, 30 Nov. 2023 To facilitate these foraging expeditions, a diving duck’s legs are positioned farther to the rear of their body than would be a dabbler’s, whose mid-body legs make walking on dry, soggy ground much easier and less clumsy. M.d. Johnson, Field & Stream, 30 Nov. 2023 Those who crossed the bridge would go on to master geometry; those who didn’t would remain dabblers. James Somers, The New Yorker, 13 Nov. 2023 With this background now, understanding what’s on the menu for dabblers and divers becomes a little easier. M.d. Johnson, Field & Stream, 2 Nov. 2023 This kind of vertical inquiry—narrow and deep—goes against Blegvad’s natural inclination as a dabbler. Anna Russell, The New Yorker, 20 Nov. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'dabbler.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1611, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of dabbler was in 1611

Dictionary Entries Near dabbler

Cite this Entry

“Dabbler.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dabbler. Accessed 20 Jun. 2024.

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