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

Keep scrolling for more

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

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 His book is full of humorous anecdotes and observations calculated to keep operatic neophytes interested. Monitor Staff, The Christian Science Monitor, "10 best books of July: the Monitor's picks," 12 July 2018 Heather Budd, who curls, and whose sister curls, and also her brother, and her parents, and her grandparents, fielded several curling questions from curling neophytes alongside her fiance, Drew Harden, both from Woodville, Ontario. Chuck Culpepper, Anchorage Daily News, "Curling fan etiquette 101: Babies, yes. Music, no. Mumbling, yes. Chanting, no.," 16 Feb. 2018 However, not all 18 governors on Cox’s list were true political neophytes. Joe Garofoli,, "John Cox, California governor candidate, says business background a big boost," 9 July 2018 Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old political neophyte seemed to come out of nowhere to defeat Joe Crowley in a Democratic Congressional primary. NBC News, "Meet the Press - July 1, 2018," 1 July 2018 But sooner rather than later, a broadcast neophyte is going to make a splash. Jacob Feldman,, "Inside Australia's World Cup 2018 Streaming Fail and What It Means for the U.S.," 21 June 2018 Other party establishment figures and groups, similarly seeking to place and avoid blame, will surely return fire (and then some), ascribing the mess to a combination of missteps by electoral neophytes and overwhelmed state and national operatives. Gregory Krieg, CNN, "Democrats have more to lose in California than a few primaries," 4 June 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about neophyte

Listen to Our Podcast about neophyte

Statistics for neophyte

Last Updated

5 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for neophyte

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on neophyte

What made you want to look up neophyte? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to reject or criticize sharply

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!