nov·​ice | \ ˈnä-vəs How to pronounce novice (audio) \

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

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Among the ancient Romans, a novice (novicius) was usually a newly enslaved person, 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
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Recent Examples on the Web Even before Walker, a political novice, officially launched his campaign, some Republicans were concerned about his viability against Sen. Raphael Warnock, a fundraising powerhouse. Rick Klein, ABC News, 14 Oct. 2021 The resort affords visitors easy access to a wealth of big game fishing excursions to satisfy everyone from novice to expert. Roger Sands, Forbes, 9 Oct. 2021 This time, however, Miles is on double duty as previous adapter Mike Poulton has been replaced by Mantel herself, a playwriting novice who brought Miles on board to write it with her. David Benedict, Variety, 7 Oct. 2021 Jalon McCullough is a novice coach who is just one year removed from his days as a college basketball player. Beth Bragg, Anchorage Daily News, 29 Sep. 2021 Despite this confirmation, the Cyber Ninjas, a novice group tasked with conducting the review, has drafted a report rife with misinformation that could continue to sow distrust in the US election system. Olivia Troye, CNN, 24 Sep. 2021 The advent of these chemical leaveners — as opposed to relying on naturally occurring yeast or the extensive beating of air into eggs or batter — put reliable, convenient baking into the hands of even the most novice cook. Washington Post, 21 June 2021 This can be a very high hurdle for novice investors or people working to wrap their heads around the highly technical digital asset classes. David Kudla, Forbes, 27 Sep. 2021 Their concern is that the 59-year-old political novice could win the GOP nomination with his fame and Trump’s help, but falter against Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock. Brian Slodysko, USA TODAY, 26 July 2021

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.

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

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

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Last Updated

17 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Novice.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce novice (audio) \

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

More from Merriam-Webster on novice

Nglish: Translation of novice for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of novice for Arabic Speakers


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