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


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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 Also in the running is political neophyte Brad Baker. Bryan Schott, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Five candidates line up to lead the Utah Republican Party," 1 Apr. 2021 Chungking Express is perhaps the best place for a Wong neophyte to start. Tyler Aquilina,, "Why you should dive into the work of Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai," 20 Mar. 2021 But Tikhanovskaya, a soft-spoken neophyte appointed as leader by the group, exhorted the crowds to oust Belarus’ strongman in the August vote. Vivienne Walt, Time, "How a Belarusian Teacher and Stay-at-Home Mom Came to Lead a National Revolt," 25 Feb. 2021 But Spoelstra clearly viewed the Bucks as too much of a challenge for a neophyte such as KZ Okpala. Ira Winderman,, "ASK IRA: Are Heat approaching decision time with Moe Harkless?," 30 Dec. 2020 Zelenskiy became president in 2019 as a political neophyte, previously known as an actor and comedian. NBC News, "Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy tests positive for Covid-19," 9 Nov. 2020 But carrying a deep, evolving bag of tricks into each game should help the college neophyte navigate Big 12 defenses with more savvy. Nick Moyle,, "Could Bijan Robinson be Texas’ next Ricky Williams?," 9 Nov. 2020 Tuberville, a political neophyte who defeated former and ex-Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the Republican Senate runoff in July, went on to prevail against Jones on Tuesday, 60 percent to 40 percent, according to preliminary results. Howard Koplowitz |, al, "Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth claims ‘Democrats’ paid Alabamians $6 to vote for Doug Jones," 4 Nov. 2020 The dismissal of criticism was an elegant way to avoid giving the neophyte too specific an evaluation—Rilke would later decline to help Kappus get published. Lidija Haas, Harper's Magazine, "New Books," 27 Oct. 2020

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

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Last Updated

14 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Neophyte.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Apr. 2021.

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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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