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 It’s about creating an amazing experience around the product. Blake Morgan, Forbes, 3 Aug. 2022 Smell also raises the emotional stakes and situates an experience inside our personal histories. Wired, 2 Aug. 2022 Riordan, a graduate of Mother McAuley High School majoring in theatre acting and directing, traveled to Ormskirk, England for an individualized immersion experience at Edge Hill University. C.r. Walker, Chicago Tribune, 2 Aug. 2022 Post-pandemic there has been a shift, (whereby) weddings have become more intimate -- and people want to create an experience. Sujata Assomull, CNN, 1 Aug. 2022 Bernstorf is looking forward to working with the various conference schools to give its student-athletes an enhanced athletic experience. Glenn Graham, Baltimore Sun, 1 Aug. 2022 Nope, his latest box office smash, is both a tribute to and commentary on spectacle, an extraordinary visual experience that takes a familiar fear, aliens, and turns it into a cautionary tale with a wholly modern message. Ellen Mcgirt, Fortune, 30 July 2022 Still, Eilish and Finneas brought enthusiasm, professionalism and polish to the intimate set, providing an engaging musical experience to the fans in attendance. Ej Panaligan, Variety, 29 July 2022 In the future, AR might allow a piece of merch to come to life with graphics illustrating specific moments from an attendee’s experience. Lyndsey Havens, Billboard, 28 July 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb But considering the prevalence of miscarriages and stillbirths, some wondered what the implications of the new tax policy could mean for those who experience pregnancy loss. María Luisa Paúl, Washington Post, 3 Aug. 2022 The post received thousands of reactions and shares, mostly support from Short's fans and others in the service industry who experience harassment from customers. Brian Manzullo, Detroit Free Press, 29 July 2022 The program is scheduled to continue every week until Thanksgiving and may even extend through the Christmas holiday for those who experience seasonal depression. Claretta Bellamy, NBC News, 28 July 2022 This phenomenon has been particularly reported in patients who take Paxlovid, but the percentage of people who experience a rebound remains unknown. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, 27 July 2022 Likewise, those with mental or emotional disabilities, or who experience loneliness or isolation, could find safe spaces for new forms of social interaction in the metaverse. Martin Boyd, Forbes, 25 July 2022 While valuable, these perks don’t go far enough for most employees, who feel this isn’t getting at the heart of what’s actually causing such high rates stress, leaving the 38% of people who experience workplace burnout with little reprieve. Fortune, 25 July 2022 Some may be confident they won’t be seriously harmed when getting COVID-19, but there is still uncertainty around who will experience a serious illness. Luke Money, Los Angeles Times, 21 July 2022 While only those who experience paralysis have the polio disease, the poliovirus can infect people without causing symptoms at all, according to the CDC. Jeanine Santucci, USA TODAY, 21 July 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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Statistics for experience

Last Updated

6 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Experience.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/experience. Accessed 15 Aug. 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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