experience

noun
ex·pe·ri·ence | \ik-ˈspir-ē-ən(t)s \

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

expertise, know-how, 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

Longtime friends Hutchinson and Lishchynsky bring Boston and New York fine-dining experience to the new project, and share a common interest in contemporary Italian cuisine. Leeanne Griffin, courant.com, "New Haven's Caseus To Close July 21; New Concept Planned For September," 13 July 2018 They are comparably priced, deliver a pleasing driving experience and offer a comprehensive set of features. Carlos Lago, Edmunds, USA TODAY, "Edmunds compares the Audi Q5 and BMW X3. Which luxury SUV has the edge?," 13 July 2018 As survivors of trauma, the two women have learned valuable skills that give them a sense of purpose, self-confidence, marketable work experience and a paycheck. Kirby Adams, The Courier-Journal, "These one-of-a-kind textiles are empowering Louisville women," 13 July 2018 Finding a dentist who cares about you and your family can make the difference between a great experience and a lifetime of dental dread. Karlie Brand, sandiegouniontribune.com, "8 reasons you’ll wish this dentist was yours," 11 July 2018 Ride-sharing companies aim to compete on brand and service, offering better experiences and increasingly more thorough transportation options, including bikes, scooters and even rental cars. Jessi Hempel, WIRED, "Uber and Lyft's Never-Ending Quest to Crush Price Comparison Apps," 11 July 2018 Preston points to California, both due to his experience there and the increasingly expensive housing market, as a leading indicator of a national swing towards pushing for rent control, tenants’ rights, and housing legislation. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Rent control and tenants’ rights set to be larger political issues in 2018 elections," 11 July 2018 But his supporters have cited his experience and wide range of legal opinions. Zeke Miller, The Seattle Times, "Trump picks Kavanaugh for court, setting up fight with Dems," 10 July 2018 While gene-drive research builds on previous mosquito-control experience and prevailing good practices in biotechnology, this is a new approach with unique aspects. Anthony A. James, STAT, "Gene-drive technology must be developed in a safe, ethical way," 10 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Many scientists believe the planet is experiencing its sixth mass extinction in the past half-billion years, the first since the dinosaurs were lost 65 million years ago. Keith Matheny, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan's most endangered species nears extinction in Oakland County," 13 July 2018 Meanwhile in Los Angeles, which was experiencing a heat wave, Ashley Madekwe stayed cool in a wide-leg jumpsuit and Emma Roberts wrapped herself in a gauzy black dress. Aubri Juhasz, The Cut, "The Best-est Party Looks of the Week," 13 July 2018 President Obama’s health care law experienced miserable polling numbers in the initial years after its 2010 passage, with more people disapproving of the Affordable Care Act than approving of it, according to the Kaiser Health Tracking Poll. Neil Irwin, New York Times, "Two Words That Could Shape the Politics of the Trade War: Loss Aversion," 13 July 2018 In the summer that Somalia experienced the worst famine since the civil war, she and her children were granted asylum in London. Sadia Hassan, Longreads, "Silence is a Lonely Country: A Prayer in Twelve Parts," 13 July 2018 One young woman who just wrapped her second-to-last semester pointed out that her peers put pressure on themselves to do it all—excel at school, have a part-time job, experience the party scene—while also performing it all on social media. Elizabeth Kiefer, Glamour, "A Cancellation Plague Is Upon Us—and It's Ruining Our Female Friendships," 13 July 2018 Most importantly, Greenwell created an unexpected eye look that incorporated the under eye redness Seyfried was experiencing. Lindsey V Thompson, Allure, "Amanda Seyfried’s Makeup Artist Turned the Star’s Eye Infection Into a Look at the Mamma Mia 2 Premiere," 13 July 2018 But to have a piece of it all to yourself, hike the Wildcat — the only trail in the tribal park visitors can experience without a Navajo guide. Roger Naylor, azcentral, "10 best hikes in Arizona show off state's diverse scenery," 13 July 2018 This year's attendance drop is also occurring at a time when the saturated music festival industry is experiencing a slowdown. Piet Levy, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Summerfest in Milwaukee reports lowest attendance in at least 25 years," 13 July 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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Last Updated

13 Oct 2018

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 \

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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