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nov·​el ˈnä-vəl How to pronounce novel (audio)
: new and not resembling something formerly known or used
New technologies are posing novel problems.
: not previously identified
transmission of a novel coronavirus
a novel genetic mutation
novel bacterial strains
: original or striking especially in conception or style
a novel scheme to collect money
novel solutions


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: an invented prose narrative that is usually long and complex and deals especially with human experience through a usually connected sequence of events
: the literary genre consisting of novels
novelistic adjective
novelistically adverb

Did you know?

If someone tells you that you've come up with a novel idea or a novel interpretation of something, it's probably a compliment: not everyone is capable of original thinking. But not everything new is terribly worthwhile; a novelty, for example, is often a cute (or maybe just silly) little object that you might put on a display shelf in your house. It may seem surprising that the familiar noun novel is related as well. In the 14th century, Italian writers began writing collections of short tales, each of which they called a novella because it represented a new literary form; from this word, three centuries later, the English coined the noun novel.

Choose the Right Synonym for novel

new, novel, original, fresh mean having recently come into existence or use.

new may apply to what is freshly made and unused

new brick

or has not been known before

new designs

or not experienced before.

starts the new job

novel applies to what is not only new but strange or unprecedented.

a novel approach to the problem

original applies to what is the first of its kind to exist.

a man without one original idea

fresh applies to what has not lost its qualities of newness such as liveliness, energy, brightness.

a fresh start

Examples of novel in a Sentence

Adjective She has suggested a novel approach to the problem. Handheld computers are novel devices.
Recent Examples on the Web
Greenwich Entertainment has acquired North American rights to The Critic, a period thriller starring Ian McKellen (Lord of the Rings franchise), which adapts Anthony Quinn’s novel Curtain Call. Matt Grobar, Deadline, 18 July 2024 That's a novel analysis, and sure to be appealed − but not in time for Election Day. Susan Page, USA TODAY, 16 July 2024
Simone, who is best known for crafting stories in comics about Wonder Woman, Deadpool, Birds of Prey and Red Sonja, will be giving superhero fans a new tale to delve into with her new novel titled Red Sonja: Consumed. Kimberlee Speakman, Peoplemag, 19 July 2024 In a new interview with The New York Times, the John Wick star opened up about writing his first novel, The Book of Elsewhere, alongside China Miéville, the sci-fi author behind books like The City & the City and Kraken. Wesley Stenzel,, 19 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for novel 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'novel.' 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, borrowed from Anglo-French & continental Old French, "new" — more at nouveau


earlier nouell, nouelle "short prose narrative," borrowed from Italian novella — more at novella

First Known Use


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1639, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of novel was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near novel

Cite this Entry

“Novel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 adjective
nov·​el ˈnäv-əl How to pronounce novel (audio)
: new and different from what has been known before
: original or striking in design or appearance
a novel way to make money


2 of 2 noun
: a long prose narrative that usually portrays imaginary characters and events

More from Merriam-Webster on novel

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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