nov·​el | \ ˈnä-vəl How to pronounce novel (audio) \

Essential Meaning of novel

: new and different from what has been known before a novel idea She has suggested a novel approach to the problem. Handheld computers are novel devices.

Full Definition of novel

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : new and not resembling something formerly known or used New technologies are posing novel problems.
b : not previously identified transmission of a novel coronavirus a novel genetic mutation novel bacterial strains
2 : original or striking especially in conception or style a novel scheme to collect money novel solutions



Definition of novel (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an invented prose narrative that is usually long and complex and deals especially with human experience through a usually connected sequence of events
2 : the literary genre consisting of novels

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Other Words from novel


novelistic \ ˌnä-​və-​ˈli-​stik How to pronounce novel (audio) \ adjective
novelistically \ ˌnä-​və-​ˈli-​sti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce novel (audio) \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for novel


new, novel, original, fresh mean having recently come into existence or use. new may apply to what is freshly made and unused new brick or has not been known before new designs or not experienced before. starts the new job novel applies to what is not only new but strange or unprecedented. a novel approach to the problem original applies to what is the first of its kind to exist. a man without one original idea fresh applies to what has not lost its qualities of newness such as liveliness, energy, brightness. a fresh start

Did you know?

If someone tells you that you've come up with a novel idea or a novel interpretation of something, it's probably a compliment: not everyone is capable of original thinking. But not everything new is terribly worthwhile; a novelty, for example, is often a cute (or maybe just silly) little object that you might put on a display shelf in your house. It may seem surprising that the familiar noun novel is related as well. In the 14th century, Italian writers began writing collections of short tales, each of which they called a novella because it represented a new literary form; from this word, three centuries later, the English coined the noun novel.

Examples of novel in a Sentence

Adjective She has suggested a novel approach to the problem. Handheld computers are novel devices.
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The novel coronavirus was rippling across the nation, and the only way to slow transmission was to detect cases. Los Angeles Times, 15 Oct. 2021 Security personnel outside the Wuhan Institute of Virology during the visit in 2021 by the WHO team investigating the origins of the novel coronavirus. Betsy Mckay, WSJ, 14 Oct. 2021 The claim: Merck's new COVID-19 drug molnupiravir is ivermectin repurposed A new contender has entered the fight against the novel coronavirus. Miriam Fauzia, USA TODAY, 12 Oct. 2021 But in the weeks leading up to the wedding day, infections of the novel coronavirus, or SARS-CoV-2, had started to rise again nationwide. Tara Santora, Scientific American, 12 Oct. 2021 The district was the first in the state to require its staff to be vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, and the first Ohio school system to implement such a policy. Madeline Mitchell, The Enquirer, 12 Oct. 2021 Factors that could drive Moderna’s performance in the longer term include boosters of its Covid shot which could be used to tackle evolving variants of the novel Coronavirus. Trefis Team, Forbes, 6 Oct. 2021 The Food and Drug Administration this week cleared a rapid, at-home COVID-19 test made by San Diego’s Acon Laboratories, touting its usefulness in helping public health officials track the spread of the novel coronavirus. San Diego Union-Tribune, 6 Oct. 2021 Public health leaders have largely accepted that the novel coronavirus will never be vanquished, instead turning into an endemic threat such as the flu and other respiratory viruses. Compiled Democrat-gazette Staff From Wire Reports, Arkansas Online, 3 Oct. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun An adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s novel of the same title, The Lost Daughter stars Olivia Colman as Leda, an impulsive and haunted loner who fixates on a young mother and daughter while on a seaside vacation. Larisha Paul, Rolling Stone, 18 Oct. 2021 Not that this novel offers horror in the conventional sense. Brandon Taylor, The New Yorker, 16 Oct. 2021 The 30-year-old actor is set to play Nick, an actor who begins an affair with Frances (Alison Oliver), a college student his wife (Jemima Kirke) befriends in the adaptation of Sally Rooney’s debut novel. Zoe Haylock, Vulture, 15 Oct. 2021 The show is based on the Hugh Howey novel series of the same name. Joe Otterson, Variety, 15 Oct. 2021 Director Denis Villeneuve's adaptation of Frank Herbert's classic 1965 science-fiction novel comes to theaters and HBO Max on Oct. 22, but most of it was filmed way back in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic. Christian Holub,, 15 Oct. 2021 At the end of Steinbeck’s novel, the social justice rabble-rouser Tom Joad disappears with the police on his tail. San Diego Union-Tribune, 15 Oct. 2021 Lahiri is currently at work on multiple literary projects, including a collection of short and flash fiction, a middle grade children’s novel, several picture book manuscripts, and a memoir. Rachel Kramer Bussel, Forbes, 15 Oct. 2021 Path integration is also thought to enable animals to compute novel shortcuts, find their way home across long distances, and more. Quanta Magazine, 14 Oct. 2021

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


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1639, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for novel


Middle English, borrowed from Anglo-French & continental Old French, "new" — more at nouveau


earlier nouell, nouelle "short prose narrative," borrowed from Italian novella — more at novella

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Time Traveler for novel

Time Traveler

The first known use of novel was in the 15th century

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Dictionary Entries Near novel

Novaya Zemlya


novel assignment

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Statistics for novel

Last Updated

19 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Novel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for novel


nov·​el | \ ˈnä-vəl How to pronounce novel (audio) \

Kids Definition of novel

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: new and different from what is already known a novel idea



Kids Definition of novel (Entry 2 of 2)

: a long story usually about imaginary characters and events

More from Merriam-Webster on novel

Nglish: Translation of novel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of novel for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about novel


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