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

Center Michael Saffell and tackle Jake Curhan remain standing from the original five-man O-line, but the other starters on Saturday are neophytes. Jeff Faraudo, The Mercury News, "Cal keeps losing offensive linemen but winning games," 12 Sep. 2019 Son of the owners of a small department store in County Tipperary, Ireland, Mr. Babington expressed the same amazement a neophyte to the horse world might feel that one of humankind’s oldest pursuits has evolved into one of its costliest. New York Times, "Where to Show Off Your $5 Million Horse," 31 Aug. 2019 Before arriving for the show, which connects classical music to today’s pop culture for opera lovers and neophytes, Gilda answered our five questions. Matthew J. Palm,, "Gilda Wabbit: Drag-queen opera singer to light up Parliament House | 5 Questions With ...," 1 Aug. 2019 That political neophytes like Mr Karoui are soaring in the polls is a sign that voters are getting tired of the squabbling. The Economist, "Tunisia’s fragile democracy faces a stiff test," 4 July 2019 Lee Lavery introduced the fishing basics that included choosing the proper rods and reels, how to use the drag system and correct tackle and fishing secrets that are never disclosed to the neophyte or experienced anglers. Emmett Hall,, "Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing Foundation hooks women anglers," 19 June 2019 On Saturday, Caputova, a 45-year-old lawyer and political neophyte who has never held state office, became the first woman sworn in as president of Slovakia. Marc Santora,, "Slovakia’s first female president, Zuzana Caputova, takes office in a divided country," 15 June 2019 When the shell is cracked open, the scent can buckle a neophyte’s knees. David Pierson,, "Decades ago, he stole a tree branch. Now he is the Durian King," 4 July 2019 When the shell is cracked open, the scent can buckle a neophyte’s knees. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column One: Decades ago, he stole a tree branch. Now he is the Durian King," 4 July 2019

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

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


miscellaneous remnants or debris

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