neo·​phyte | \ ˈnē-ə-ˌfīt How to pronounce neophyte (audio) \

Definition of neophyte

1 : a new convert : proselyte
3 : tyro, beginner a neophyte when it comes to computers neophytes fresh from graduate schools of business

Synonyms for neophyte


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Neophyte is hardly a new addition to the English language (it's been part of the English vocabulary since the 1300s), but it wasn't in general use before the 19th century. When it was used in a 16th-century translation of the Bible, some folks derided it as pretentious and Latinate. One critic lumped it with other "ridiculous inkhorn terms" and another went as far as to write, "Neophyte, to a bare Englishman is nothing at all." The criticisms of "neophyte" weren't entirely justified, given the word's long history in English, but it is true that "neophyte" has classical roots. It traces back through Late Latin to the Greek neophytes, meaning "newly planted or "newly converted."

Examples of neophyte in a Sentence

neophytes are assigned an experienced church member to guide them through their first year
Recent Examples on the Web Alisha’s timid granddaughter Izzy (Keke Palmer), a clueless neophyte (Taika Waititi) and a rugged middle-aged female ex-convict (Dale Soules). Kyle Smith, WSJ, 16 June 2022 In Peru, a surge in poverty helped propel Marxist rural schoolteacher and political neophyte Pedro Castillo last year to the presidency. Samantha Schmidt, Washington Post, 29 May 2022 And that is how a Broadway neophyte won the role of pop megastar Michael Jackson. Peter Marks, Washington Post, 6 June 2022 Harrison Ford movies, but making Affleck's agent such a neophyte weirdly strands him between the movie's poles. Darren Franich,, 1 June 2022 Anyone who opens their heart to the mountains – veteran trekker, casual explorer, or complete neophyte – will be well rewarded by this singular book. Michael Berry, The Christian Science Monitor, 25 May 2022 Do voters prefer a serious legislator who does his job and reflects the values of his district to a headline-grabbing neophyte? Dan Mclaughlin, National Review, 28 Apr. 2022 Unlike Newsom’s top Republican challengers in the September recall and 2018 governor’s race, Dahle is not a political neophyte. Phil Willonstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 16 May 2022 Burton—a young, stuck-up, politically correct liberal, and a political neophyte by comparison—reconciles with him almost immediately. Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, 25 Apr. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of neophyte

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for neophyte

Middle English neophite, borrowed from Late Latin neophytus, borrowed from Greek neóphytos "newly planted" (in New Testament and patristic Greek, "newly converted, new convert"), from neo- neo- + -phytos, verbal adjective of phýein "to bring forth, produce" — more at be

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

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Last Updated

25 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Neophyte.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for neophyte


neo·​phyte | \ ˈnē-ə-ˌfīt How to pronounce neophyte (audio) \

Kids Definition of neophyte

2 : a new convert

More from Merriam-Webster on neophyte

Nglish: Translation of neophyte for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about neophyte


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