nov·​ice | \ ˈnä-vəs How to pronounce novice (audio) \

Definition of novice

1 : a person admitted to probationary membership in a religious community The novices spend part of each day in prayer and meditation.
2 : beginner, tyro

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web As far as building a novice-friendly machine, however, Polaris knocked it out of the park with the Trail S 1000 Premium. Bryan Campbell, Robb Report, 16 June 2021 This outdoor trail is the perfect socially distant activity for the novice Instagrammer to the veteran art enthusiast. Perri Ormont Blumberg, Southern Living, 15 June 2021 There’s something uniquely soulful about a master teacher passing down lessons to an eager novice. Rolling Stone, 14 June 2021 Hill was a political novice in 2018 who gained national attention when she was elected to Congress, flipping a GOP seat representing northern Los Angeles County. Seema Mehta, Los Angeles Times, 10 June 2021 Even at the highest level, a novice team should start by practicing in person to develop essential team-building skills, observe and learn [from] each other as well as from coaches or facilitators leading the session. Edward Segal, Forbes, 7 June 2021 The urban votes are mostly counted, but the rural votes are still coming in where Pedro Castillo, a former school teacher and political novice from a Socialist party, has strong support. David Clark Scott, The Christian Science Monitor, 7 June 2021 The idea of replacing him with a novice who can be ridiculed as a Hollywood stoner may sound crazy. Steve Chapman,, 21 Apr. 2021 Christina, a rank novice, wobbles down a pitch, hits the first roller, topples over and starts wailing. Washington Post, 4 June 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'novice.' 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 novice

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for novice

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

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Time Traveler for novice

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

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Last Updated

19 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Novice.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for novice



English Language Learners Definition of novice

: a person who has just started learning or doing something
: a new member of a religious group who is preparing to become a nun or a monk


nov·​ice | \ ˈnä-vəs How to pronounce novice (audio) \

Kids Definition of novice

1 : a person who has no previous experience with something : beginner a novice at skiing
2 : a new member of a religious community who is preparing to take the vows of religion


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