neo·​phyte | \ˈnē-ə-ˌfīt \

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

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Synonyms for neophyte


convert, proselyte

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Did You Know?

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

The playoff neophytes have been thrust into tough environments, playing in Oklahoma City and Boston. Chris Fedor,, "How Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson are approaching their first postseason appearance," 12 Apr. 2018 On nuclear weapons in particular, Mr. Trump is a neophyte compared with the Russian who wants to rewrite the historical record to lure the President into further reducing the U.S. arsenal. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Containing Putin—and Trump," 17 July 2018 The ability to cast from a bouncing platform with shifting winds separates the neophyte from the accomplished fly or spin-casting aficionado. Peter Reese, Popular Mechanics, "Five Things to Know Before Running a Wild River," 11 Aug. 2017 As some Democratic Party mainstays across the country fall to insurgent left-wing candidates, attention turns Thursday to Delaware, where a veteran senator faces a primary challenge from another political neophyte. Adam Shaw, Fox News, "Democratic senator in Delaware latest to face leftist primary challenger," 6 Sep. 2018 For Drag Race neophytes: the finale is taped weeks in advance, but multiple endings are filmed to avoid spoilers. Yohana Desta, HWD, "RuPaul’s Drag Race Winner Aquaria Knows Exactly How to Address Racism in the Show’s Fandom," 29 June 2018 The 2016 election featured a stunning victory for Republican Donald Trump, a controversial political neophyte whose tenure has been chaotic, over Democrat Hillary Clinton, whom many voters disliked. Martin Finucane,, "Americans left Thanksgiving dinner early because of divisive 2016 election, study finds," 31 May 2018 Peralta wasn’t that: This scrawny neophyte overwhelmed hitters instead with a so-so fastball and lots of guts. Staff,, "Nine Innings: The Fear-Inducing Yankees, Examining MLB's Trends and Banning the Shift," 14 May 2018 His allies are portraying her as a neophyte with a thin résumé who can’t deliver for the state. New York Times, "Dean Heller, Buffeted on Both Sides, Tries to Save His Nevada Senate Seat," 13 May 2018

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.

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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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Last Updated

12 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for neophyte

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

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More Definitions for neophyte



English Language Learners Definition of neophyte

: a person who has just started learning or doing something

: a person who has recently joined a religious group


neo·​phyte | \ˈnē-ə-ˌfīt \

Kids Definition of neophyte

2 : a new convert

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More from Merriam-Webster on neophyte

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with neophyte

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for neophyte

Spanish Central: Translation of neophyte

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

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a soft lustrous wool fabric with mohair

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