neo·​phyte ˈnē-ə-ˌfīt How to pronounce neophyte (audio)
: a new convert : proselyte
: tyro, beginner
a neophyte when it comes to computers
neophytes fresh from graduate schools of business

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 But in their early years these prodigious neophytes tended to devote themselves single-mindedly to their ensembles. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 2 Apr. 2024 Robert Kennedy is expected to announce that Nicole Shanahan, a Silicon Valley lawyer, investor and political neophyte, will be his running mate in his independent presidential bid. Maggie Haberman, New York Times, 26 Mar. 2024 Schiff and Garvey, a political neophyte who nevertheless was the most prominent Republican running, were the top two finishers in the primary, sending them to a one-on-one contest in the November general election. Benjamin Oreskes, Los Angeles Times, 7 Mar. 2024 This first episode hits me, a neophyte, as competently executed apocalypse fiction. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, 16 Jan. 2023 The Texans’ most talented defensive players, edge rusher Will Anderson and cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., were also neophytes. Childs Walker, Baltimore Sun, 16 Jan. 2024 The obscure neophyte was now tipped to be Johnson’s successor. Dominic Green, Washington Examiner, 12 Jan. 2024 The loneliest feeling in the world must be somebody stumbling into The First Shadow as a total neophyte and wondering why everything seems to be an in-joke. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 21 Dec. 2023 His replacement, Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), is a neophyte at political leadership with a long history of hard-line social conservative stances that might not play well in the districts that will determine House control. Cameron Joseph, Los Angeles Times, 9 Dec. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'neophyte.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

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Cite this Entry

“Neophyte.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


neo·​phyte ˈnē-ə-ˌfīt How to pronounce neophyte (audio)
: a person who has recently joined a religion

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