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 Lessons are learned—chiefly the lesson that life before the hostage experience was a farce. Graeme Wood, The Atlantic, "The Awful Wisdom of the Hostage," 5 Apr. 2021 The experience may be familiar to many Black San Diegans and other people of color. Lauryn Schroeder, San Diego Union-Tribune, "A Palpable Fear: Minorities describe encounters with San Diego police, sheriff’s deputies," 4 Apr. 2021 The experience is akin to using your kitchen stovetop. Megan Oster, chicagotribune.com, "Best patio essentials 2021," 2 Apr. 2021 But just because the experience of watching the movies in our living rooms wasn’t as enjoyable doesn’t mean that the movies themselves were somehow inferior. Los Angeles Times, "How do this year’s best picture nominations stack up to the past?," 2 Apr. 2021 The ballgame experience isn’t yet back 100 percent. Scott Ostler, San Francisco Chronicle, "A's home opener brings Bay Area crowds back to baseball," 1 Apr. 2021 This inspired him to write a story centered on someone who was marginalized, though Sky's experience is different than his. David Oliver, USA TODAY, "'The Sky Blues' is the queer YA romantic comedy you've been waiting for," 1 Apr. 2021 Some said polishing the digital experience might not be the right priority for public transit, which has other problems. Katie Deighton, WSJ, "Transit Agencies Build Slicker Trip Navigation Tools to Boost Ridership," 1 Apr. 2021 This experience is available at 9:30 and 11 a.m. April 4. Patrick Connolly, orlandosentinel.com, "Easter weekend in Orlando: Egg hunts and family-friendly events," 31 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb People of color are especially likely to experience this burden. Priya Iyer, Scientific American, "Racial Disparities Have Been Found in Screening for Postpartum Mood Disorders," 30 Mar. 2021 Women are more likely to experience poverty than men. Adrienne Roberts, Detroit Free Press, "Report: Michigan women working full-time make 78 cents on the dollar compared to men," 25 Mar. 2021 Those who dine at Rhythm on Monroe are likely to experience just that. Matt Wake | Mwake@al.com, al, "Alabama white barbeque sauce plus nachos equals yes," 24 Mar. 2021 Teens whose parents responded to their identity with moderate levels of rejecting behaviors are three times more likely to experience high levels of clinical depression as young adults when compared with peers who were not rejected. Laura Newberry, Los Angeles Times, "A year at home has forced many LGBTQ college students ‘back into the closet’," 24 Mar. 2021 Men of color, particularly Black men, are more likely to experience inflammation, razor bumps and ingrown hairs after shaving, Gohara said. Kristen Rogers, CNN, "To shave or not to shave? How beards may affect Covid-19 risk," 23 Mar. 2021 But a full container ship is more likely to experience the phenomenon, says Onas—which means that right now, the conditions are ripe. Aarian Marshall, Wired, "Where Are Those Shoes You Ordered? Check the Ocean Floor," 20 Mar. 2021 This suggests that less populated areas are likely to experience coverage gaps. Marshall Shepherd, Forbes, "Are Black And Rural Residents In The South More Vulnerable To Tornadoes Due To Radar Gaps?," 20 Mar. 2021 Asian American and Pacific Islander women were more than two times more likely to experience discrimination this past year, according to a report Tuesday by the group Stop AAPI Hate. Chase Difeliciantonio, San Francisco Chronicle, "Report: Asian American and Pacific Islander women are more likely to experience discrimination than men during the pandemic," 17 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.

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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

8 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Experience.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/experience. Accessed 13 Apr. 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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Comments on experience

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