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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The agency has final say on accounting procedures, and Ms. Jones said some staffers expressed concern that private-sector officials with no experience with the federal budget process were doing a task the law gives to OMB. Josh Mitchell, WSJ, "Is the U.S. Student Loan Program Facing a $500 Billion Hole? One Banker Thinks So.," 29 Apr. 2021 Pocock’s replacement will be a coach with state tournament experience. Greg Riddle, Dallas News, "McKinney hires boys soccer coach with state tournament experience to replace retiring Alan Pocock," 29 Apr. 2021 David Friedman, a Trump bankruptcy lawyer with no experience in diplomacy but plenty in activism, was the forewarning that U.S. policy in the Middle East was being turned on its head and becoming unabashedly biased in favor of Israel. Tracy Wilkinson Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Biden hasn’t picked an ambassador to Israel. What does that say of U.S.-Israeli relations?," 29 Apr. 2021 Instead, combine automation with a white glove experience to lower the effort needed to resolve issues. Logan Brown, Forbes, "Ten Strategies For Building A Modern IT Employee Experience," 28 Apr. 2021 The extensive group of new hires included three executives with past experience as N.H.L. general managers — Rick Dudley, Les Jackson and Paul Fenton. New York Times, "The Florida Panthers Are Winning, Both On and Off the Ice," 28 Apr. 2021 Tickets range from $20-$35, with the exclusive bourbon experience an additional $35. Luann Gibbs, The Enquirer, "Top 5 things to do in Cincinnati this weekend: April 30-May 2," 28 Apr. 2021 Ford is a productive playmaker with experience at safety and cornerback. Eddie Brown, San Diego Union-Tribune, "2021 NFL Draft: Top Safeties," 28 Apr. 2021 Cyber Ninjas is a Florida firm with no election experience run by Doug Logan, who has shared unfounded conspiracy theories claiming the official 2020 presidential election results are illegitimate. Bob Christie, ajc, "Judge has doubts on voter privacy in Arizona recount," 28 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb That’s the key: for adoption to happen at real scale, people have to witness that potential and maybe even experience it. Joe Lindsey, Outside Online, "It’s Time for a Federal E-Bike Tax Credit," 28 Apr. 2021 Research published on The Lancet highlighted that this may be due to the fact that many people aren’t told why their miscarriage happened and experience health providers who lack sympathy. Alice Broster, Forbes, "Miscarriage Care Needs To Change Around The World, According To New Report," 28 Apr. 2021 The rides will allow passengers to unbuckle and experience weightlessness for a few minutes before strapping back into their reclining seats for the trip back to Earth. Richard Tribou, orlandosentinel.com, "20 years since Dennis Tito, companies line up to launch tourists in space," 28 Apr. 2021 Democrats say the firm lacks experience auditing elections and that the firm’s chief executive, Doug Logan, has promoted conspiracy theories about election fraud. Alexa Corse, WSJ, "Arizona Republicans Push Forward With Audit of 2020 Ballots," 27 Apr. 2021 So much more to eat, drink, hear, see and experience. Matt Wake | Mwake@al.com, al, "Panoply 2021 was just what Huntsville culture needed right now," 27 Apr. 2021 Vibes are a medium for feeling, the kind of abstract understanding that comes before words put a name to experience. Kyle Chayka, The New Yorker, "TikTok and the Vibes Revival," 26 Apr. 2021 The Bay Area patient received his Johnson & Johnson shot on April 8, and began to experience escalating pain in the lower back and leg on April 16, UCSF said. J.k. Dineen, San Francisco Chronicle, "UCSF reports a man got blood clots after receiving Johnson & Johnson vaccination," 25 Apr. 2021 The Human Rights Campaign cited studies that show nearly a third of transgender and non-binary people experience homelessness during their lifetime, including half of those who are Black, Middle Eastern, multiracial, and/or undocumented immigrants. Sabrina Eaton, cleveland, "HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge cancels Trump administration move to deny service to homeless transgender people," 23 Apr. 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.

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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

2 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Experience.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/experience. Accessed 9 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for experience



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)



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)


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

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