from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun One who dabbles in an art or a field of knowledge.
  • noun Archaic A lover of the fine arts.
  • adjective Superficial; amateurish.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To play the dilettante.
  • noun An admirer or lover of the fine arts, science, or letters; an amateur; one who pursues an art or literature desultorily and for amusement: often used in a disparaging sense for a superficial and affected dabbler in literature or art.
  • Relating to dilettantism; having the characteristics of dilettanti.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun An admirer or lover of the fine arts; popularly, an amateur; especially, one who follows an art or a branch of knowledge, desultorily, or for amusement only.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun An amateur, someone who dabbles in a field out of casual interest rather than as a profession or serious interest.
  • noun A person with a general but superficial interest in any art or a branch of knowledge.
  • adjective Pertaining to or like a dilettante.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun an amateur who engages in an activity without serious intentions and who pretends to have knowledge
  • adjective showing frivolous or superficial interest; amateurish


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Italian, lover of the arts, from present participle of dilettare, to delight, from Latin dēlectāre; see delight.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Italian dilettante, prop. present participle of dilettare ("to delight"), from Latin delectare ("to delight").


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  • A former favorite, dethroned by sparble.

    July 18, 2007

  • "This class is called 'Finding Your Voice'. It's for serious writers, not emotionally stunted dilettantes!" - Ugly Betty

    October 21, 2007

  • This seems to be used mostly as an insult these days.

    October 22, 2007

  • And what an excellent insult!

    October 22, 2007

  • That makes me sad. It's such a pretty word for a dabbler.

    October 22, 2007

  • I think of it more like a "renaissance" person than a dabbler. I guess because "dabbler" also has a negative connotation.

    October 22, 2007

  • Then there is that device, recommended by the Phrontistery guy, of just adding "aster" as a pejorative suffix to your noun of choice.

    Examples: poetaster, criticaster, wordiecaster.

    October 22, 2007

  • I'm a fan of bastardaster, personally. Nothing like adding insult to... er, insult.

    October 22, 2007

  • Hey, that has a nice ring to it!

    October 22, 2007

  • Their own careers being at the most dilettante affairs, they were free from such exigencies themselves.

    -- ''Yashima, or, The Gorgeous West'' by R T Sherwood, 1931.

    December 24, 2008

  • see heinrich zimmer's brilliant defense of dilettantism in what was the book's name....

    April 27, 2009

  • Etymologically, this means "one who delights." A nice concept, I think. In this time of ubiquitous professionalization and ultra-specialization, we need more dilletantes to delight us.

    April 28, 2009