nov·ice | \ˈnä-vəs \

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

Keep scrolling for more

Did You Know?

Among the ancient Romans, a novice (novicius) was usually a newly imported slave, 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

Gray started his career as a video tape editor and sports reporter in Denver in 1977 and was thrust into the world of boxing the next year as a teenage broadcasting novice when he was assigned to interview Ali. Houston Chronicle, "Vitali Klitschko honors brother in his Hall of Fame moment," 10 June 2018 As a novice, Mignerey learned the basics like how to properly lift a kettlebell. Amy Chillag, CNN, "How to achieve 'functional fitness' in middle age without injuring yourself," 28 May 2018 The movement is led by a political novice, Manzoor Pashteen, and powered by a blitz on social media that circumvents a domestic media blackout on the group. WSJ, "Young Activists, Fed Up With Alleged Abuses, Challenge Pakistan’s Military," 11 May 2018 What happens when a soccer player who had an inclination to try tennis gets paired as a doubles partner with a former competitive swimmer who likewise entered high school as a tennis novice? Glae Thien,, "Doubles partners good fit for Patrick Henry tennis team," 9 Apr. 2018 Those still trapped include the coach, who spent much of the past decade as a novice in a Buddhist monastery, a student from Myanmar who came to Thailand for a better life, and a soccer fanatic who is afraid of the dark. Jake Maxwell Watts, WSJ, "Four Boys Rescued From Flooded Thai Cave," 8 July 2018 Veterans and novices alike flocked to it, stoked by the prospect and weirdness of surfing in the city. David Kelly,, "Who says you can't ride a wave in a landlocked state? In Colorado, surf's up," 27 June 2018 The arrival comes as one of Carson's closest political aides, deputy chief of staff Deana Bass, leaves the department and shortly after a relative novice to housing policy, Andrew Hughes, was promoted to chief of staff. Gregory Wallace And Rene Marsh, CNN, "Son of close Carson friend hired at HUD," 30 May 2018 In total, the house has nine musical instruments that professional musicians and novices alike can use to make music. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Art collective wants to take its ‘musical house’ on tour," 2 May 2018

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.

See More

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 imported slave, person recently entered into a condition," as adjective, "newly imported, recently discovered, fashionable," from novus "new" + -īcius -itious — more at new entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about novice

Dictionary Entries near novice








Statistics for novice

Last Updated

11 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for novice

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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 \

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on novice

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for novice

Spanish Central: Translation of novice

Nglish: Translation of novice for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of novice for Arabic Speakers

Comments on novice

What made you want to look up novice? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


required by fashion, etiquette, or custom

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble-tiles-that-read-scrabble-quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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