General English

  • noun a person who is not paid to play his or her sport
  • noun a person who does something because he or she likes doing it


  • noun a person who plays cricket as a pastime rather than as a profession; specifically, in the context of first-class cricket in Britain, a player who held amateur status. Amateurs ‘were addressed by professionals as Sir or Mr at all times. Omitting this courtesy could result in a fine or dismissal. The amateurs, in turn, addressed the professionals by their surnames alone’ (Marqusee 1994). According to an MCC ruling, amateurs received no remuneration but were entitled to reimbursement of all their expenses. Amateur status was finally abolished after the 1962 cricket season.
    See also gentleman


  • noun someone with limited skill in, or knowledge of, an activity

Origin & History of “amateur”

Etymologically, an amateur is simply a ‘lover’. That is what its ultimate Latin ancestor amator meant, and indeed in English it still denoted ‘someone who loves or is fond of something’ until well into the 19th century (‘am no amateur of these melons’, Mrs Atkinson, Tartar Steppes 1863). However, its immediate source, French amateur, had already evolved the subsidiary sense ‘one who does something solely for the enjoyment, not for payment’, and that is now its only English meaning.