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

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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

Steven Duggar, another Bochy neophyte, added an RBI double before Pablo Sandoval, one of the manager’s most cherished players, sealed it with a two-run double. Henry Schulman,, "Giants pound Mets in 10th inning for Bruce Bochy’s 1,000th regular-season win," 4 June 2019 Lori Lightfoot, a former federal prosecutor and political neophyte, had 88,697 votes, followed by Toni Preckwinkle, the president of the Cook County Board, with 80,915 votes, with more than 94% of precincts reporting. Douglas Belkin, WSJ, "Two Black Women to Vie for Mayor in Historic Chicago Race," 27 Feb. 2019 Words of wisdom for neophytes walking the carpet tonight. Kate Branch, Vogue, "Kendall Jenner Finally Sets the Record Straight on Her Acne—And It’s Empowering," 7 Jan. 2019 The 29-year-old political neophyte, who has both Mexican and Palestinian heritage, has been quick and unequivocal in separating himself from Muhammad Yusuf al-Najjar. Adam Shaw, Fox News, "Dem running against indicted Rep. Hunter rises in race, disavows Munich terrorist grandfather," 24 Aug. 2018 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

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

13 Jun 2019

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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 How to pronounce neophyte (audio) \

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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behavior toward others

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