nov·​el | \ ˈnä-vəl How to pronounce novel (audio) \

Definition of novel

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : new and not resembling something formerly known or used New technologies are posing novel problems.
b : not previously identified transmission of a novel coronavirus a novel genetic mutation novel bacterial strains
2 : original or striking especially in conception or style a novel scheme to collect money novel solutions



Definition of novel (Entry 2 of 2)

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

Other Words from novel


novelistic \ ˌnä-​və-​ˈli-​stik How to pronounce novel (audio) \ adjective
novelistically \ ˌnä-​və-​ˈli-​sti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce novel (audio) \ adverb

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

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.

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: Adjective Ben McAdams and others in the county saw an opportunity to apply the still-novel Pay for Success model to these two deeply entrenched community issues. The Sorenson Impact Center, Forbes, 13 May 2022 Goldblum went on to say that the character of Ian Malcolm was almost cut from the script entirely, which makes a certain degree of sense given that his counterpart in the source novel by Michael Crichton ends up dying. Philip Ellis, Men's Health, 12 May 2022 Companies must rise to the challenge by marshaling talent in fundamentally novel and innovative ways. Micha Kaufman, Fortune, 11 May 2022 There's first love, unrequited love, crazy love and that very special, yet novel, rom-com kind of love. Usa Today Staff, USA TODAY, 7 May 2022 Generating uses for a Frisbee and generating novel ways of dealing with conflict aren't the same -- one task may be better done alone, outside of any sort of meeting. Katie Hunt, CNN, 27 Apr. 2022 Escue is also hoping that the novel and immense scale of the project will be an attractive feature. Rory Appleton, The Indianapolis Star, 20 Apr. 2022 The hope is that this novel and ambitious setup will not only map out neutrino oscillations in high resolution, but that signs of new particles and forces could show up, and physicists may at last grasp the baffling origin of neutrino mass. Thomas Lewton, Scientific American, 13 Apr. 2022 With strikingly relevant subject matter and an Apple TV+ series adaptation under way starring Brie Larson, this darkly funny and poignant novel, out in April, is likely to be a blockbuster. Carole V. Bell, The Atlantic, 22 Mar. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Perhaps the most overt change between the novel and the Hulu adaptation is how the television show chooses to depict Frances’ struggle with self-harm. Keely Weiss, ELLE, 16 May 2022 Another curriculum example was linking Google Slides with Sora text directly so students could choose a novel or verse book from the slides and click to view the digital text. cleveland, 13 May 2022 The mythos around the character of Ethel Cain is long enough to fill a novel or a film — or, in Anhedönia’s case, a concept album. Stephen Daw, Billboard, 12 May 2022 The bed is also a prominent fixture in See’s upcoming novel, with two of the young characters playing there. Michelle Terris, Los Angeles Times, 10 May 2022 Jean Rhys doesn’t disguise her prequel novel’s effort to investigate female sexuality. Dinitia Smith, WSJ, 6 May 2022 The album partly takes its title from a century-old dystopian novel, and other perennial Arcade Fire touchstones include the classic prophecies of both the Bible and Ziggy Stardust. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, 5 May 2022 The outfits invoke the classic novel and TV adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale, which imagines a dystopia that relegates women to incubator status. Natalie Shure, The New Republic, 5 May 2022 While the characters, played by Alec Guinness, William Holden, Jack Hawkins, and Sessue Hayakawa, are fictional, the film and the novel on which it’s based were inspired by construction of the Burma Railway, during which more than 9,000 POWs died. Sophie Hanson, Harper's BAZAAR, 5 May 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'novel.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of novel


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


1639, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for novel


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

Learn More About novel

Time Traveler for novel

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near novel

Novaya Zemlya


novel assignment

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for novel

Last Updated

16 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Novel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for novel


nov·​el | \ ˈnä-vəl How to pronounce novel (audio) \

Kids Definition of novel

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: new and different from what is already known a novel idea



Kids Definition of novel (Entry 2 of 2)

: a long story usually about imaginary characters and events

More from Merriam-Webster on novel

Nglish: Translation of novel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of novel for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about novel


Test Your Vocabulary

Eponyms: Words Named After People

How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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