dilettante

noun

dil·​et·​tante ˈdi-lə-ˌtänt How to pronounce dilettante (audio)
-ˌtant;
ˌdi-lə-ˈtänt,
-ˈtant
plural dilettantes or dilettanti ˌdi-lə-ˈtän-tē How to pronounce dilettante (audio)
-ˈtan-tē
1
: a person having a superficial interest in an art or a branch of knowledge : dabbler
Mr. Carroll often criticizes the superficial lives of the dilettantes … who mingle in New York. Mark Stevens
Whitman ran an amateurish campaign … and was painted as an aristocratic dilettante. Eleanor Clift
2
dated : an admirer or lover of the arts
It was unparalleled, undreamed-of, that I, Humphrey Van Weyden, a scholar and a dilettante, if you please, in things artistic and literary, should be lying here on a Bering Sea seal-hunting schooner. Jack London
dilettante adjective
dilettantish
ˈdi-lə-ˌtän-tish How to pronounce dilettante (audio)
-ˌtan-
ˌdi-lə-ˈtän-
-ˈtan-
adjective
dilettantism noun
Choose the Right Synonym for dilettante

amateur, dilettante, dabbler, tyro mean a person who follows a pursuit without attaining proficiency or professional status.

amateur often applies to one practicing an art without mastery of its essentials

a painting obviously done by an amateur

; in sports it may also suggest not so much lack of skill but avoidance of direct remuneration.

remained an amateur despite lucrative offers

dilettante may apply to the lover of an art rather than its skilled practitioner but usually implies elegant trifling in the arts and an absence of serious commitment.

had no patience for dilettantes

dabbler suggests desultory habits of work and lack of persistence.

a dabbler who started novels but never finished them

tyro implies inexperience often combined with audacity with resulting crudeness or blundering.

shows talent but is still a mere tyro

Example Sentences

I recently spent a week in Alaska trying to learn how to be a mountaineer. I did not succeed very well, and the details are not very interesting. I finished the course (I was enrolled in a course) thinking that perhaps I am better off remaining a slightly-above-average mountain dilettante. An occasional rock climber. Jason Lee Steorts, National Review, 18 Aug. 2008 Being a powerhouse herself in ways that make today's feminist superwomen look like dilettantes, she inevitably clashed with star directors like Maurice Tourneur and Ernst Lubitsch. Molly Haskell, New York Times Book Review, 6 June 1999 Most of the articles published in Naval History reflect time-consuming research and investigation. The efforts are not the work of dilettantes, but of professional and semiprofessional historians. Michael M. Bergfeld, Naval History, July/August 1997 You can always tell a true expert from a dilettante. she writes about art not from the point of view of an artist but from that of a committed dilettante
Recent Examples on the Web And, of course, the inviolable truth that the dilettante boy king remains in charge, come what may. Andy Meek, BGR, 5 Oct. 2022 The commanding officer of the fort is an inept dilettante played by Ken Berry. Matt Schudel, Washington Post, 9 July 2022 Over the past year or so, the viral moments mocking Disney adults keep accumulating, piling one on top of the other like a twentysomething dilettante’s LSAT prep books. Ej Dickson, Rolling Stone, 21 June 2022 Any dilettante with money can buy a mixer and auto beat match their way into the dance world. Katie Bain, Billboard, 10 Feb. 2022 Long before that, Scaife had lived the life of a dilettante. Patricia Callahan, ProPublica, 15 Dec. 2021 Critics derided him throughout as a rich dilettante seeking to buy a seat in Congress. Washington Post, 11 Dec. 2021 Arne, a professor on summer holiday with his family, is friends with Egil, a dilettante who has experienced a recent religious breakthrough. Brandon Taylor, The New Yorker, 16 Oct. 2021 Witchcraft, real or imagined, has become a somewhat trendy tack among writers turning over the legacies of patriarchy, but Blakemore is no dilettante here. Los Angeles Times, 23 Aug. 2021 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

Italian, from present participle of dilettare to delight, from Latin dilectare — more at delight

First Known Use

1748, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of dilettante was in 1748

Dictionary Entries Near dilettante

Cite this Entry

“Dilettante.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dilettante. Accessed 1 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

dilettante

noun

dil·​et·​tante ˈdil-ə-ˌtänt How to pronounce dilettante (audio)
-ˌtant;
ˌdil-ə-ˈtänt(-ē),
-ˈtant(-ē)
plural dilettantes or dilettanti -ˈtänt-ē How to pronounce dilettante (audio)
-ˈtant-ē
1
: an admirer or lover of the arts
2
: a person who has a shallow interest in an art or area of knowledge
dilettante adjective
dilettantism noun

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