ex·​pe·​ri·​ence | \ ik-ˈspir-ē-ən(t)s How to pronounce experience (audio) \

Definition of experience

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : direct observation of or participation in events as a basis of knowledge
b : the fact or state of having been affected by or gained knowledge through direct observation or participation
2a : practical knowledge, skill, or practice derived from direct observation of or participation in events or in a particular activity
b : the length of such participation has 10 years' experience in the job
3 : something personally encountered, undergone, or lived through
4a : the conscious events that make up an individual life
b : the events that make up the conscious past of a community or nation or humankind generally
5 : the act or process of directly perceiving events or reality


experienced; experiencing

Definition of experience (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to have experience of : undergo experienced severe hardships as a child
2 : to learn by experience (see experience entry 1) I have experienced that a landscape and the sky unfold the deepest beauty— Nathaniel Hawthorne

Synonyms & Antonyms for experience

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Noun

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Examples of experience in a Sentence

Noun Human experience is the ultimate source and justification for all knowledge. Experience itself has accumulated in human memory and culture, gradually producing the methods of intelligence called "reason" and "science." — John Shook, Free Inquiry, April/May 2008 Almost as charismatic as the ivory-bill, the California condor passed through a near-death experience and is today regaining a tentative foothold in parts of its erstwhile range. — John Terborgh, New York Review of Books, 26 Apr. 2007 Many of his students have plenty of life experience but … never mastered the academic stuff at school. — Daryl Crimp, New Zealand Geographic, March/April 2007 In the energetic, speculative, socially mobile urban society of the early 18th century, maternal impression, the idea that a child's appearance was directed by the mother's experiences, found advocates among London physicians as easily as it did among myth-fed country fold. — Miranda Seymour, New York Times Book Review, 17 June 2007 Literary London was not merely a great gathering of experiences for [Samuel] Johnson, but a veritable public stew of good words. — Andrew O'Hagan, New York Review, 27 Apr. 2006 The best way to learn is by experience. We need someone with experience. She gained a lot of experience at that job. I know that from personal experience. She has five years' experience as a computer programmer. He wrote about his experiences as a pilot. That experience is one I'd rather forget! She had a frightening experience. Verb Performing a risk-reward analysis can often clarify decisions. If the risk of a failed marriage is that you may have to experience heartache and an expensive divorce, you'd better think carefully. If the risk of a bad ski run is that you'll die, you'd better think even more carefully about what you'll gain by taking that risk. — Laurence Gonzales, National Geographic Adventure, March 2008 Of course, many reporters do their best to be accurate, but they must conform to the conventions of their craft, and there is always slippage between their choice of words and the nature of an event as experienced or perceived by others. — Robert Darnton, New York Review of Books, 12 June 2008 I spent 20-some years as a foreign correspondent and experienced my share of harrowing travel.  … And unlike the brave foreign correspondents that you see on TV or read about …  , I was scared silly. — P. J. O'Rourke, Forbes Life, June 2008 That was one of the worst days I've ever experienced. The patient has been experiencing pain in her left shoulder. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Making the show has been a surprisingly emotional experience for Bayer. Shannon Carlin, Time, 10 May 2022 To be such a fan of the franchise prior, and to be able to interact with Ghostface yourself, was just an incredible experience. EW.com, 10 May 2022 The trip, which spanned 10 days and included four games against foreign competition, was a foundational experience for that Auburn team, which was the most successful of Pearl’s early tenure on the Plains. Tom Green | Tgreen@al.com, al, 9 May 2022 There may be no universal female experience, but there are certain biological and physical differences that affect only women. Patricia Posner, WSJ, 9 May 2022 Having a feline companion can be a truly wonderful experience. Lynn Redmile, Good Housekeeping, 9 May 2022 Despite the attention downtown incidents receive, gun violence in neighborhoods is a daily experience that is harder for residents in some areas to escape. Annie Sweeney, Chicago Tribune, 8 May 2022 Miller said last season’s struggles were a learning experience that is paying off in productivity this year. Joe Noga, cleveland, 8 May 2022 Anderson has said that filming the final episode was an emotional experience for him. Kimberly Nordyke, The Hollywood Reporter, 8 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The officer is required to complete a policy review, attend a course about physiological factors that officers experience during high-stress incidents and attend a traffic stop safety course. Sarah Nelson, The Indianapolis Star, 13 May 2022 The health department said that most people who contract the disease will experience mild symptoms like Cox has — especially if they’re fully vaccinated and have gotten a booster. Paighten Harkins, The Salt Lake Tribune, 12 May 2022 While the past accumulates like debris in front of him, Klee’s angel falls back into the future, unable to prepare for it or experience its arrival. New York Times, 12 May 2022 May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and 211 Palm Beach and Treasure Coast realize that everyone may sometimes experience similar feelings of distress. Sharon L'herrou, Sun Sentinel, 12 May 2022 Greece has about 200 populated islands, many of which still experience rolling blackouts in the summer and struggle to cope with overflowing landfills, normally hidden in the hills. Derek Gatopoulos, The Christian Science Monitor, 11 May 2022 The Celtics hope to experience all the greatness that is Milwaukee, win Friday, then bring it back to the Garden and win again Sunday. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, 11 May 2022 Even the major Canadian metropolitan areas of Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City will experience record-challenging heat this week, AccuWeather reported. Doyle Rice, USA TODAY, 11 May 2022 Since these grass types experience their most active root growth in spring, applying a fall fertilizer won't be as effective. Samantha Jones, Better Homes & Gardens, 10 May 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of experience


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1580, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for experience


Middle English, borrowed from Anglo-French, borrowed from Latin experientia "testing of possibilities, participation in events, skill gained by practice," noun derivative of experient-, experiens, present participle of experīrī "to put to the test, attempt, have experience of, undergo," from ex- ex- entry 1 + -perīrī, from a presumed verbal base *per- "test, risk," perhaps going back to Indo-European *pr̥h3-i-

Note: See note at peril entry 1.


verbal derivative of experience entry 1

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Time Traveler for experience

Time Traveler

The first known use of experience was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near experience




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Statistics for experience

Last Updated

14 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Experience.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/experience. Accessed 21 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for experience


ex·​pe·​ri·​ence | \ ik-ˈspir-ē-əns How to pronounce experience (audio) \

Kids Definition of experience

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the process of living through an event or events You learn by experience.
2 : the skill or knowledge gained by actually doing a thing The job requires someone with experience.
3 : something that someone has actually done or lived through She told us about her experience flying a plane.


experienced; experiencing

Kids Definition of experience (Entry 2 of 2)

: to undergo or live through : have experience of

More from Merriam-Webster on experience

Nglish: Translation of experience for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of experience for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about experience


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