dilettante

noun

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
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
dilettante adjective
dilettantish
ˈdi-lə-ˌtän-tish How to pronounce dilettante (audio)
-ˌtan-
ˌdi-lə-ˈtän-
-ˈtan-
adjective
dilettantism 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
Recent Examples on the Web An even simpler reason is that Trump is a vain, distractible dilettante. Andrew Marantz, The New Yorker, 27 Mar. 2024 By then, the mathematician Benoît Mandelbrot had gained a reputation as an academic dilettante. Quanta Magazine, 26 Jan. 2024 Efforts to put in additional safeguards proved unsuccessful, however, and Circle would sell the exchange to a consortium of Asian investors, including crypto dilettante Justin Sun, amid a cloud of regulatory uncertainty just a year later for a loss of $156 million. Leo Schwartz, Fortune Crypto, 6 Sep. 2023 The dynamic dilettante did $1.7 billion in annual sales in 2021, a record high. Marisa Dellatto, Forbes, 16 July 2023 In Mod’s hands, Shruti never panders for pity or respect either from audiences or from Whishaw’s Adam, never makes Shruti come across as a victim or as a naive dilettante. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 7 June 2023 But in croquet, age is no barrier to mastery, and Grimsley’s guests, who had flown in from around the country, were no dilettantes. Tara Bahrampour, Washington Post, 10 May 2023 Kenner has described the hip-hop star as a naive amateur diplomat — a dilettante, not a criminal. Paul Duggan, Washington Post, 31 Mar. 2023 Growing up a dilettante with a taste for action, he was drawn more to outdoor adventures than his studies. David James, Anchorage Daily News, 26 Mar. 2023

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

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

1748, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of dilettante was in 1748

Dictionary Entries Near dilettante

Cite this Entry

“Dilettante.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dilettante. Accessed 15 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

dilettante

noun
dil·​et·​tante ˈdil-ə-ˌtänt How to pronounce dilettante (audio)
-ˌtant;
ˌdil-ə-ˈtänt(-ē),
-ˈtant(-ē)
plural dilettantes or dilettanti -ˈtänt-ē How to pronounce dilettante (audio)
-ˈtant-ē
1
: an admirer or lover of the arts
2
: a person who has a shallow interest in an art or area of knowledge
dilettante adjective
dilettantism noun

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