experience

1 of 2

noun

ex·​pe·​ri·​ence ik-ˈspir-ē-ən(t)s How to pronounce experience (audio)
1
a
: direct observation of or participation in events as a basis of knowledge
b
: the fact or state of having been affected by or gained knowledge through direct observation or participation
2
a
: practical knowledge, skill, or practice derived from direct observation of or participation in events or in a particular activity
b
: the length of such participation
has 10 years' experience in the job
3
: something personally encountered, undergone, or lived through
4
a
: the conscious events that make up an individual life
b
: the events that make up the conscious past of a community or nation or humankind generally
5
: the act or process of directly perceiving events or reality

experience

2 of 2

verb

experienced; experiencing

transitive verb

1
: to have experience of : undergo
experienced severe hardships as a child
2
: to learn by experience (see experience entry 1)
I have experienced that a landscape and the sky unfold the deepest beautyNathaniel Hawthorne

Examples of experience in a Sentence

Noun Human experience is the ultimate source and justification for all knowledge. Experience itself has accumulated in human memory and culture, gradually producing the methods of intelligence called "reason" and "science." John Shook, Free Inquiry, April/May 2008
Almost as charismatic as the ivory-bill, the California condor passed through a near-death experience and is today regaining a tentative foothold in parts of its erstwhile range. John Terborgh, New York Review of Books, 26 Apr. 2007
Many of his students have plenty of life experience but … never mastered the academic stuff at school. Daryl Crimp, New Zealand Geographic, March/April 2007
In the energetic, speculative, socially mobile urban society of the early 18th century, maternal impression, the idea that a child's appearance was directed by the mother's experiences, found advocates among London physicians as easily as it did among myth-fed country fold. Miranda Seymour, New York Times Book Review, 17 June 2007
Literary London was not merely a great gathering of experiences for [Samuel] Johnson, but a veritable public stew of good words. Andrew O'Hagan, New York Review, 27 Apr. 2006
The best way to learn is by experience. We need someone with experience. She gained a lot of experience at that job. I know that from personal experience. She has five years' experience as a computer programmer. He wrote about his experiences as a pilot. That experience is one I'd rather forget! She had a frightening experience. Verb Performing a risk-reward analysis can often clarify decisions. If the risk of a failed marriage is that you may have to experience heartache and an expensive divorce, you'd better think carefully. If the risk of a bad ski run is that you'll die, you'd better think even more carefully about what you'll gain by taking that risk. Laurence Gonzales, National Geographic Adventure, March 2008
Of course, many reporters do their best to be accurate, but they must conform to the conventions of their craft, and there is always slippage between their choice of words and the nature of an event as experienced or perceived by others. Robert Darnton, New York Review of Books, 12 June 2008
I spent 20-some years as a foreign correspondent and experienced my share of harrowing travel.  … And unlike the brave foreign correspondents that you see on TV or read about …  , I was scared silly. P. J. O'Rourke, Forbes Life, June 2008
That was one of the worst days I've ever experienced. The patient has been experiencing pain in her left shoulder.
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
There are some narratives on very predictable topics — living up to the expectations of immigrant parents, or suffering from depression in 2020 — that are moving because of the attention with which the student describes the experience. Nell Freudenberger, New York Times, 14 May 2024 Related That element means that audiences can see the show multiple times and never have the same experience. Christopher Cruz, Rolling Stone, 14 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for experience 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'experience.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Middle English, borrowed from Anglo-French, borrowed from Latin experientia "testing of possibilities, participation in events, skill gained by practice," noun derivative of experient-, experiens, present participle of experīrī "to put to the test, attempt, have experience of, undergo," from ex- ex- entry 1 + -perīrī, from a presumed verbal base *per- "test, risk," perhaps going back to Indo-European *pr̥h3-i-

Note: See note at peril entry 1.

Verb

verbal derivative of experience entry 1

First Known Use

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

1580, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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

Dictionary Entries Near experience

Cite this Entry

“Experience.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/experience. Accessed 24 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

experience

1 of 2 noun
ex·​pe·​ri·​ence ik-ˈspir-ē-ən(t)s How to pronounce experience (audio)
1
: the actual living through an event or series of events
learn by experience
2
a
: skill or knowledge gained by actually doing or feeling a thing
a job that requires someone with experience
had gained a lot of experience by the end of the season
b
: the amount of such skill or knowledge
has five years' experience
3
: something one has actually done or lived through
my experiences as a riverboat pilot

experience

2 of 2 verb
experienced; experiencing
: to have experience of : undergo
experienced many hardships as a child

More from Merriam-Webster on experience

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