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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
Other novel treatments include a 15-minute intravenous iron infusion that can prevent or treat severe anemia in pregnancy—a common cause of postpartum hemorrhage—and administering azithromycin, an antibiotic widely used to treat eye and respiratory infections. Jennifer Fields, Fortune Well, 12 Sep. 2023 Barring those who are able to impact games from putting money on them isn't a novel concept. The Courier-Journal, 6 Sep. 2023 Governments should, on the face of it, be better primed for managing novel risks and technologies than ever before. Mustafa Suleyman, WIRED, 6 Sep. 2023 The search giant will also seek to undermine the premise of the Justice Department’s suit, claiming that the government has used antitrust law in a novel way to punish the company because of its popularity. Nico Grant, New York Times, 6 Sep. 2023 Watch it on Prime Video American Horror Story: Delicate (FX, September 20) Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s horror anthology returns for its 12th season, this one inspired by Danielle Valentine’s novel Delicate Condition. Keith Phipps, Rolling Stone, 5 Sep. 2023 But watching the heroes of thrillers act with brutal efficiency (and a total lack of empathy for their victims) is not exactly novel. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 3 Sep. 2023 That novel approach brought criticism from hundreds of defense attorneys, who wrote in support of Chastain’s bid to dismiss the case before trial. Chris Dolmetsch, Fortune Crypto, 23 Aug. 2023 In the last episode, the series wraps up the Detroit storyline, which is based on Elmore Leonard's novel City Primeval. Terri Robertson, Country Living, 30 Aug. 2023
Beautiful Wedding is the sequel to this year's Beautiful Disaster and is also adapted from author Jamie McGuire's novel. Tommy McArdle, Peoplemag, 13 Sep. 2023 There are plenty of biographies, essays, and novels to look forward to these next few months. Okla Jones, Essence, 12 Sep. 2023 The musical, based on the novel by Sara Gruen, is scheduled to play the Imperial Theatre starting Feb. 24, with an opening night set for March 21. Caitlin Huston, The Hollywood Reporter, 12 Sep. 2023 Two years later, Hulu’s adaptation has arrived, keeping the spirit of Harris’s debut novel — and the well-deserved buzz around it — firmly intact. Bethonie Butler, Washington Post, 12 Sep. 2023 The 10-episode series, developed for the streamer by Onyx Collective, is based on Zakiya Dalila Harris’s best-selling 2021 novel of the same name and follows Nella Rogers (Sinclair Daniel), a put-upon editorial assistant, as the rat race leads her down unexpected paths. Leigh-Ann Jackson, New York Times, 11 Sep. 2023 The British author lived from 1890 to 1976 and wrote 66 novels and 14 short story collections. Katie Bowlby, Country Living, 10 Sep. 2023 How does your training in psychology play in with your novel writing? Gina Tomaine,, 10 Sep. 2023 Based on Ide Jessen’s 2020 historical novel The Captain and Ann Barbara, the script by Arcel and Anders Thomas Jensen lays out the exposition with brisk efficiency and incisive character definition. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 1 Sep. 2023 See More

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 3 Oct. 2023.

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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