nov·​ice ˈnä-vəs How to pronounce novice (audio)
: a person admitted to probationary membership in a religious community
The novices spend part of each day in prayer and meditation.

Did you know?

Among the ancient Romans, a novice (novicius) was usually a newly enslaved person, who had to be trained in his or her duties. Among Catholics and Buddhists, if you desire to become a priest, monk, or nun, you must serve as a novice for a period of time, often a year (called your novitiate), before being ordained or fully professing your vows. No matter what kind of novice you are—at computers, at writing, at politics, etc.—you've got a lot to learn.

Examples of novice in a Sentence

Novices serve time as scullery serfs as they work toward the privilege of trailing a pastry chef … Guy Trebay, New York Times, 4 Sept. 2002
For the novice, walking the course also means being scared senseless by all the possibilities to screw up. Tim Keown, ESPN, 17 Sept. 2001
Yet it's obvious to him and everyone else who the novice is here, the book-learned tournament virgin. James McManus, Harper's, December 2000
Much defter than one would have thought possible from the length of her fingernails, Toula had no fear of high fast notes; her flair, mounted between Andrea's perfectionist reserve and Alice's novice awkwardness, seemed all too displayed. John Updike, The Afterlife, 1994
He's a novice in cooking. a book for the novice chess player See More
Recent Examples on the Web These genius self-watering bulbs automatically know when to water thirsty plants, making keeping indoor plants alive easy for green thumbs and novices alike. Poppy Morgan, Rolling Stone, 21 Nov. 2023 The scientific and anecdotal detail in each account is enough to satisfy the curious reader while entertaining the novice one. Angelina Torre, WSJ, 16 Nov. 2023 An advance screening was attended by what appeared to be many novice moviegoers. Olivia McCormack, Washington Post, 15 Nov. 2023 With as little as three or four ingredients and often no baking required, these pretty shards of chocolate dressed up with toppings are attainable for even the most novice bakers. Mary Shannon Wells, Southern Living, 31 Oct. 2023 More than once, over the past few years, novices have held their own with top boxers. Kelefa Sanneh, The New Yorker, 30 Oct. 2023 Rodriguez, who loves taking her family on the road, praises this subscription as a practical pick for rovers of all kinds, novices included. Leigh-Ann Jackson,, 24 Oct. 2023 Saturday’s match, against Ngannou, a novice, would serve mainly as an ostentatious tune-up. Kelefa Sanneh, The New Yorker, 30 Oct. 2023 Getting the parts back in order is likely to be confusing for a novice. Sharon Brandwein, Southern Living, 11 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'novice.' 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, "probationer in a religious community" (continental Old French also, "inexperienced person"), borrowed from Late Latin novīcius, going back to Latin, "newly enslaved person, person recently entered into a condition," as adjective, "newly imported, recently discovered, fashionable," from novus "new" + -īcius -itious — more at new entry 1

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near novice

Cite this Entry

“Novice.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


nov·​ice ˈnäv-əs How to pronounce novice (audio)
: a new member of a religious order who is preparing to take the vows of religion
: a person who has no previous experience with something

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