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90s Slang You Should Know


[dil-i-tahnt, dil-i-tahnt, -tahn-tey, -tan-tee] /ˈdɪl ɪˌtɑnt, ˌdɪl ɪˈtɑnt, -ˈtɑn teɪ, -ˈtæn ti/
noun, plural dilettantes, dilettanti
[dil-i-tahn-tee] /ˈdɪl ɪˈtɑn ti/ (Show IPA)
a person who takes up an art, activity, or subject merely for amusement, especially in a desultory or superficial way; dabbler.
a lover of an art or science, especially of a fine art.
of or relating to dilettantes.
Origin of dilettante
1725-35; < Italian, noun use of present participle of dilettare < Latin dēlectāre to delight
Related forms
dilettantish, dilettanteish, adjective
1. amateur. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for dilettante
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She did fashion another sandwich of a rugged pattern, but there was a hint of the dilettante in her work.

    Somewhere in Red Gap Harry Leon Wilson
  • And the Amateur was unknown—and the dilettante undreamed of!

    The Gentle Art of Making Enemies James McNeill Whistler
  • These men are at any rate ‘thorough’; they are not dilettante dalliers between two opinions.

    Matthew Arnold George Saintsbury
  • It never failed; the dilettante in fun was not to be deceived.

    Concerning Cats Helen M. Winslow
  • To her he was an eccentric, and a dilettante in crime—a seeker after the lower strata of humanity, but nothing more.

    A Woman's Burden Fergus Hume
  • I really have no mind to turn into a dilettante spiritualist.

    Under Western Eyes Joseph Conrad
  • Both father and son were dilettante composers and instrumental players—the father on the violoncello, the son on the pianoforte.

British Dictionary definitions for dilettante


noun (pl) -tantes, -tanti (-ˈtɑːntɪ)
a person whose interest in a subject is superficial rather than professional
a person who loves the arts
of or characteristic of a dilettante
Derived Forms
dilettantish, dilettanteish, adjective
dilettantism, dilettanteism, noun
Word Origin
C18: from Italian, from dilettare to delight, from Latin dēlectāre
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for dilettante

1733, borrowing of Italian dilettante "lover of music or painting," from dilettare "to delight," from Latin delectare (see delight (n.)). Originally without negative connotation, "devoted amateur," the pejorative sense emerged late 18c. by contrast with professional.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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dilettante in Culture
dilettante [(dil-uh-tahnt, dil-uh-tahnt)]

Someone who is interested in the fine arts as a spectator, not as a serious practitioner. Dilettante is most often used to mean a dabbler, someone with a broad but shallow attachment to any field.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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