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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for experience

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Noun

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 Of course, the retreat is a singular, and pricy, experience; the meals were nutritionally precise and hyper-local, all prepared and exactingly plated by a world-famous auteur chef. Hannah Walhout, Travel + Leisure, "This Food-focused Wellness Retreat Might Help You Rethink Your Idea of 'Healthy' Eating," 17 Apr. 2021 While being single is not a uniform experience, their stories share several themes: Being single is quite different from being alone. Belinda Luscombe, Time, "Being Single Was Just a Part of Their Lives Before the Pandemic. Then It Became the Defining One," 17 Apr. 2021 While cicadas can be a nuisance for some orchardists and farmers, witnessing them is also an awe-inspiring experience, Day said. Jen Rose Smith, CNN, "Brood X is almost here. Billions of cicadas to emerge in eastern US," 16 Apr. 2021 Going into her time on the show, Utica Queen knew that RuPaul's Drag Race was going to be a challenging experience. Stephen Daw, Billboard, "Utica Queen Wiggles Down to Her 'Drag Race' Playlist with Carly Rae Jepsen, Olivia Rodrigo & More," 16 Apr. 2021 The recruiting process is: An awesome experience, for sure. Richard Davenport, Arkansas Online, "Get to know 4-star LB Tackett Curtis," 15 Apr. 2021 According to Gilbert, this was a novel experience for him as well. Lila Seidman, Los Angeles Times, "Hiker rescued from inhospitable peak in Angeles Forest with help from a GPS sleuth," 15 Apr. 2021 Virtual performances were a new experience, Harbaugh said. Zachary Lewis, cleveland, "Cleveland’s choral groups grapple with unique challenges amid COVID-19 pandemic," 14 Apr. 2021 Zillgitt: This should be a great experience for the Suns in the playoffs and winning a round will be a success in my book. Matt Eppers, USA TODAY, "NBA roundtable: Who deserves more attention as serious championship contenders?," 14 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Airline customers can experience delays due to an IT system’s failure to properly scan boarding passes or slow performance of gate-checking applications. Akhilesh Tripathi, Forbes, "Why Prescriptive Analytics Can Help Achieve Autonomous Enterprise Operations," 16 Apr. 2021 Though some can experience chemistry and connection over video, the relationship still has to pass the in-person test. Dina Cheney, Good Housekeeping, "Video Dating Is Here to Stay, Even After the Pandemic Ends," 14 Apr. 2021 The sickest patients can experience hallucinations and psychoses. Pamela Weintraub, The Atlantic, "The Way Out of Brain Fog," 9 Apr. 2021 Experts have said relatives of victims of police violence can experience physical and emotional manifestations of trauma including effects on long-term mental health, survivor's guilt and even post-traumatic stress disorder. NBC News, "The Derek Chauvin trial is ‘opening old wounds’ for police violence victims," 8 Apr. 2021 Cancer midheavens can experience professional ups and downs like the tide of the moon. Sophie Saint Thomas, Allure, "What Your Midheaven Sign Tells You About Your Professional Life," 4 Apr. 2021 Winkler said visitors can experience a wide range of attractions. David Sharos, chicagotribune.com, "Air Classics Museum at Aurora Airport opening for season with new feature," 2 Apr. 2021 The way Womack sees it, ranch rentals open the gates to landscapes most people just can’t experience otherwise, while also helping landowners hold on to and maintain those properties. René A. Guzman, San Antonio Express-News, "Texas company specializes in luxury, resortlike ranch rentals with thousands of unspoiled acres and luxurious amenities," 1 Apr. 2021 Also, by eliminating traveling from room to room, the existing rooms can be converted to theater rooms, increasing the number of participants who can experience the endowment at the same time. The Salt Lake Tribune, "In wake of temple mural removals, question arises: How is the LDS Church doing in preserving its past?," 28 Mar. 2021

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about experience

Time Traveler for experience

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for experience

Last Updated

20 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Experience.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/experience. Accessed 21 Apr. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on experience

What made you want to look up experience? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Flower Edition

How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Typeshift

Anagram puzzles meet word search.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!