noun dil·et·tante \ ˈdi-lə-ˌtänt , -ˌtant ; ˌdi-lə-ˈ \
|Updated on: 26 Jul 2018

Definition of dilettante

plural dilettantes or dilettanti play \-ˈtän-tē, -ˈtan-tē\
1 : a person having a superficial interest in an art or a branch of knowledge : dabbler
2 : an admirer or lover of the arts




play \-ˌtän-tish, -ˌtan-, ˌdi-lə-ˈ\ adjective


play \-ˌtän-ˌti-zəm, -ˌtan-, ˌdi-lə-ˈ\ noun

Examples of dilettante in a Sentence

  1. I recently spent a week in Alaska trying to learn how to be a mountaineer. I did not succeed very well, and the details are not very interesting. I finished the course (I was enrolled in a course) thinking that perhaps I am better off remaining a slightly-above-average mountain dilettante. An occasional rock climber. —Jason Lee SteortsNational Review18 Aug. 2008
  2. Being a powerhouse herself in ways that make today's feminist superwomen look like dilettantes, she inevitably clashed with star directors like Maurice Tourneur and Ernst Lubitsch. —Molly HaskellNew York Times Book Review6 June 1999
  3. Most of the articles published in Naval History reflect time-consuming research and investigation. The efforts are not the work of dilettantes, but of professional and semiprofessional historians. —Michael M. BergfeldNaval HistoryJuly/August 1997
  4. You can always tell a true expert from a dilettante.

  5. she writes about art not from the point of view of an artist but from that of a committed dilettante

Recent Examples of dilettante from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of dilettante

Italian, from present participle of dilettare to delight, from Latin dilectare — more at delight

Synonym Discussion of dilettante

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

Other Fine Arts Terms

DILETTANTE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of dilettante for English Language Learners

  • : a person whose interest in an art or in an area of knowledge is not very deep or serious

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very hard to disturb or upset

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