neo·​phyte | \ ˈnē-ə-ˌfīt How to pronounce neophyte (audio) \

Definition of neophyte

1 : a new convert : proselyte
3 : tyro, beginner a neophyte when it comes to computers neophytes fresh from graduate schools of business

Synonyms for neophyte


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Neophyte is hardly a new addition to the English language (it's been part of the English vocabulary since the 1300s), but it wasn't in general use before the 19th century. When it was used in a 16th-century translation of the Bible, some folks derided it as pretentious and Latinate. One critic lumped it with other "ridiculous inkhorn terms" and another went as far as to write, "Neophyte, to a bare Englishman is nothing at all." The criticisms of "neophyte" weren't entirely justified, given the word's long history in English, but it is true that "neophyte" has classical roots. It traces back through Late Latin to the Greek neophytes, meaning "newly planted or "newly converted."

Examples of neophyte in a Sentence

neophytes are assigned an experienced church member to guide them through their first year
Recent Examples on the Web Unlike Newsom’s top Republican challengers in the September recall and 2018 governor’s race, Dahle is not a political neophyte. Phil Willonstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 16 May 2022 Burton—a young, stuck-up, politically correct liberal, and a political neophyte by comparison—reconciles with him almost immediately. Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, 25 Apr. 2022 Britt campaign spokesman Sean Ross said Britt was speaking for the Shelby campaign, not herself, at the time of the 2016 statement, adding that there is a distinction between longtime incumbent Shelby and Durant, a political neophyte. Howard Koplowitz |, al, 19 Apr. 2022 For attorney general, Trump endorsed political neophyte Matt DePerno, who pushed for an audit of the 2020 vote in Michigan's Antrim County. Grayson Quay, The Week, 3 Apr. 2022 The former four-star prospect was still a football neophyte, having picked up the game at a New Jersey private school after moving there from Scotland. Rainer Sabin, Detroit Free Press, 18 Mar. 2022 But any astute Batman fan — or, for that matter, Batman neophyte — will know who this inmate is meant to be. Adam B. Vary, Variety, 5 Mar. 2022 Ultimately, Luttig, a Twitter neophyte, took to social media to denounce Eastman's reasoning, and to say that the Constitution gave Pence no powers to reject electors and overturn the election as Trump was demanding. Jamie Gangel, CNN, 28 Feb. 2022 Consider the aftermath of the disastrous Virginia elections, in which Terry McAuliffe, a white middle-aged centrist former governor who made his name in the party fundraising for the Clintons, was defeated by Glenn Youngkin, a political neophyte. Abdul El-sayed, The New Republic, 27 Jan. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'neophyte.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of neophyte

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for neophyte

Middle English neophite, borrowed from Late Latin neophytus, borrowed from Greek neóphytos "newly planted" (in New Testament and patristic Greek, "newly converted, new convert"), from neo- neo- + -phytos, verbal adjective of phýein "to bring forth, produce" — more at be

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

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Last Updated

20 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Neophyte.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for neophyte


neo·​phyte | \ ˈnē-ə-ˌfīt How to pronounce neophyte (audio) \

Kids Definition of neophyte

2 : a new convert

More from Merriam-Webster on neophyte

Nglish: Translation of neophyte for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about neophyte


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