experience

noun
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

experience

verb
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

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Synonyms & Antonyms for experience

Synonyms: Noun

chops, expertise, know-how, moxie, proficiency, savvy, skills

Synonyms: Verb

endure, feel, have, know, pass, see, suffer, sustain, taste, undergo, witness

Antonyms: Noun

inexperience

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

People often think their running shoe size is smaller than it actually should be, and there are numerous factors (including the foot swelling many of us experience when exercising) that may make sizing up a good idea. Alexa Tucker, SELF, "6 Lacing Hacks to Make Your Running Shoes Way More Comfortable," 8 May 2019 Another member of the team with a decade of experience, Julian Hönig, plans to... Tripp Mickle, WSJ, "Turnover Hits Apple’s Famed Industrial Design Team," 25 Apr. 2019 Beychella and Homecoming are a heartfelt salute to the Black experience, as evidenced by the performance's utilization of the classic sounds of HBCU marching bands and the smooth moves of majorettes. Ineye Komonibo, Marie Claire, "Why Beyoncé's "New" Song 'Before I Let Go' Sounds So Familiar," 17 Apr. 2019 Regardless of the exact dynamics in her personal life, the song — which weaves in experiences about being adopted and yet growing up knowing her birth mother — is relatable to nearly anyone with a relationship to a primary caregiver and a body. Allure, "Musician Lucy Dacus Opens Up About Body Image, Her Moms, and More in New Interview," 24 Apr. 2019 Acer sees an opportunity to shine by providing a more curated PC experience—a completely different strategy from its approach to mainstream PCs. Melissa Riofrio, PCWorld, "Acer CEO Jason Chen explains why his PCs are going niche," 19 Apr. 2019 As the two fall in love and try to pursue a relationship together, their friends and family try to keep them apart due to their different backgrounds and experiences. Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, "Everything You Need to Know About the "West Side Story" Remake," 17 Apr. 2019 The results of his testing showed that, while mounted, a bull rider experiences accelerations of in excess of 3 g's. William Gurstelle, Popular Mechanics, "'Game of Thrones' Science: Could a Person Ride a Dragon?," 15 Apr. 2019 The parents of two documented the process of putting together their daughter, Luna's, new outdoor playhouse, and the whole experience is so dang relatable. Blair Donovan, Country Living, "John Legend and Chrissy Teigen's Over-the-Top Family Playhouse Is Surprisingly Affordable," 6 Apr. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Additionally, according to Engelman, there is a risk for loose skin if someone has already experienced extreme weight loss. Roxanne Adamiyatt, Town & Country, "Everything You Need to Know About CoolSculpting (and Were Too Afraid to Ask)," 11 Jan. 2019 Teaching assistant Tasha first experienced symptoms earlier this year when her arm went numb. Fox News, "Sisters diagnosed with rare disease weeks apart recovering from brain surgeries," 28 Sep. 2018 Walgreens cut its forecast on Tuesday after experiencing what the company described as its most difficult quarter since the 2014 merger of Walgreens and Alliance Boots. Joseph Walker, WSJ, "Generic-Drug Trends Squeeze Walgreens Profit," 2 Apr. 2019 For one night only—on April 30, 2019—the lucky winner and a guest of their choice will experience a night at the museum like never before. Lucia Tonelli, ELLE Decor, "Here’s What it Takes to Win an Overnight Stay at the Louvre," 2 Apr. 2019 To avoid getting to the point of experiencing hallucinations, both Dr. Kate Gardner, SELF, "What It’s Like to Be So Sleep Deprived That You Hallucinate," 14 Feb. 2019 Now, Clarke is fully healed and is launching a charity to support people experiencing and recovering from brain injury. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Emilia Clarke Had Two Brain Aneurysms and a Near-Death Surgery During Her Early Years on Game of Thrones," 21 Mar. 2019 Gabbard is in many ways the antithesis of the current POTUS: young, female, progressive, experienced in war, and happens to be the first Hindu to serve in Congress. Celeste Katz, Glamour, "Who’s In and Who’s Out of the 2020 Presidential Race—So Far," 3 Jan. 2019 That means that someone who is prone to acne might experience it even more so, and those with normally clear skin may get the rare pimple during their time of the month. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "7 Period Symptoms That Are Totally Normal," 5 Dec. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of experience

Noun

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

Verb

1580, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for experience

Noun

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.

Verb

verbal derivative of experience entry 1

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Statistics for experience

Last Updated

12 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for experience

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

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More Definitions for experience

experience

noun

English Language Learners Definition of experience

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the process of doing and seeing things and of having things happen to you
: skill or knowledge that you get by doing something
: the length of time that you have spent doing something (such as a particular job)

experience

verb

English Language Learners Definition of experience (Entry 2 of 2)

: to do or see (something) or have (something) happen to you : to feel or be affected by (something)

experience

noun
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.

experience

verb
experienced; experiencing

Kids Definition of experience (Entry 2 of 2)

: to undergo or live through : have experience of

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Comments on experience

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