dil·​et·​tante | \ ˈdi-lə-ˌtänt How to pronounce dilettante (audio) , -ˌtant; ˌdi-lə-ˈtänt, -ˈtant \
plural dilettantes or dilettanti\ ˌdi-​lə-​ˈtän-​tē How to pronounce dilettante (audio) , -​ˈtan-​tē \

Definition of dilettante

1 : a person having a superficial interest in an art or a branch of knowledge : dabbler Mr. Carroll often criticizes the superficial lives of the dilettantes … who mingle in New York.— Mark Stevens Whitman ran an amateurish campaign … and was painted as an aristocratic dilettante.— Eleanor Clift
2 dated : an admirer or lover of the arts It was unparalleled, undreamed-of, that I, Humphrey Van Weyden, a scholar and a dilettante, if you please, in things artistic and literary, should be lying here on a Bering Sea seal-hunting schooner.— Jack London

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Other Words from dilettante

dilettante adjective
dilettantish \ ˈdi-​lə-​ˌtän-​tish How to pronounce dilettante (audio) , -​ˌtan-​ , ˌdi-​lə-​ˈtän-​ , -​ˈtan-​ \ adjective
dilettantism \ ˈdi-​lə-​ˌtän-​ˌti-​zəm How to pronounce dilettante (audio) , -​ˌtan-​ , ˌdi-​lə-​ˈtän How to pronounce dilettante (audio) , -​ˈtan-​ \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of dilettante in a Sentence

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 Steorts, National Review, 18 Aug. 2008 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 Haskell, New York Times Book Review, 6 June 1999 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. Bergfeld, Naval History, July/August 1997 You can always tell a true expert from a dilettante. she writes about art not from the point of view of an artist but from that of a committed dilettante
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Recent Examples on the Web None of these dilettante candidates has held public office, and none of them is willing to start at the beginning in local politics. Nicholas Goldberg, Star Tribune, 9 July 2021 The language might suggest one dilettante in conversation with another, but both women defied such stereotypes. Adrian Higgins, Washington Post, 7 Apr. 2021 Using his fortune for exploration was not the whim of a dilettante but the result of a drive to comprehend the world in its complexity. Edward Rothstein, WSJ, 11 Dec. 2020 The Big 12 already bears the cross of a big-time football dilettante. Kevin Sherrington, Dallas News, 25 Sep. 2020 The Nero meme leaves the impression of an effete dilettante, confident in his own genius only because nobody had the guts to tell him otherwise. Gaia Squarci, Smithsonian Magazine, 18 Sep. 2020 Again and again, Pelosi is dismissed, first as a dilettante housewife, then as a far-left San Francisco kook, finally as an establishment dinosaur — and throughout, as a woman. Michelle Goldberg, New York Times, 5 May 2020 While the stern, secretive Vida built a life that barely included them, beautiful Lyn moved to the Bay Area to live as a party-girl dilettante with a trustafarian white dude named Juniper. Judy Berman, Time, 22 Apr. 2020 And both are rear-drive, because all-wheel drive is for those timid dilettantes who buy Lamborghinis and Audis. John Pearley Huffman, Car and Driver, 29 Apr. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of dilettante

1748, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for dilettante

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

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The first known use of dilettante was in 1748

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Last Updated

20 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Dilettante.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dilettante. Accessed 30 Jul. 2021.

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More Definitions for dilettante



English Language Learners Definition of dilettante

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

More from Merriam-Webster on dilettante

Nglish: Translation of dilettante for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dilettante for Arabic Speakers


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