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

Example Sentences

he was a dabbler, learning the basics of many arts but mastering none
Recent Examples on the Web Probably the main difference between a real estate investing pro and a perennial dabbler is that the former think in terms of investment rather than cost. Clint Coons, Forbes, 25 Aug. 2022 By contrast, many people involved in real estate investing have a dabbler’s mindset. Clint Coons, Forbes, 25 Aug. 2022 Her mother, a spiritual dabbler, believes that Khristen died and then came back to life. Anthony Domestico, The Atlantic, 12 Sep. 2021 The mandate at Hammer & Stitch is to craft exacting pub-style ales and lagers whose quality appeals to the demanding craft beer enthusiast but whose approachability also piques the palate of the dabbler. oregonlive, 18 Aug. 2021 There are licenses to be acquired if a seller is more than a casual dabbler or wants to buy from wholesalers, and research to be done into sourcing, demand and competition in various items, among other things. Los Angeles Times, 28 Apr. 2021 Most dabblers become obsessed with finessing beautiful objects and seldom think about its context or consequences. Anne Quito, Quartz at Work, 19 May 2020 Having a few Iraq War dead-enders and dabblers in race science around keeps things fresh and interesting. Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, 27 Jan. 2020 Like many New Age dabblers in the nineteen-seventies, he was drawn to the Fourth Way—a brand of mysticism established by George Gurdjieff in the early twentieth century. Rachel Monroe, The New Yorker, 18 Nov. 2019 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dabbler.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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 28 Jan. 2023.

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