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[green-hawrn] /ˈgrinˌhɔrn/
an untrained or inexperienced person.
a naive or gullible person; someone who is easily tricked or swindled.
Slang. a newly arrived immigrant; newcomer.
Origin of greenhorn
late Middle English
1425-75; late Middle English; see green, horn; orig. applied to cattle with green (i.e., young) horns
Related forms
greenhornism, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for greenhorn
Historical Examples
  • Only a greenhorn is careless of the comfort and welfare of his horse.

    Two Arrows William O. Stoddard
  • But little fish are sweet, and he thought he had secured a greenhorn.

    Young Mr. Barter's Repentance David Christie Murray
  • Besides, if you are a greenhorn, you act as if you know what you are about.'

  • He told us not to lean out of the windows, not to point, and explained the word "greenhorn."

    The Promised Land Mary Antin
  • I might have knowed it was some greenhorn, when I heard you coming two points off your course.

    Blow The Man Down Holman Day
  • In spite of his nickname, Sally was no greenhorn on occasions like this.

    Labrador Days Wilfred Thomason Grenfell
  • He would not be able to help but regard Alan as a kid, a greenhorn; it was natural.

    Starman's Quest Robert Silverberg
  • It was worthy of a greenhorn out on his first hunting trip; but I did it nevertheless.

    Long Odds H. Rider Haggard
  • They found they had not got quite the greenhorn to deal with that they had first imagined.

    The Congo Rovers Harry Collingwood
  • “Come now, David, you are passing your jokes off on a greenhorn,” I replied.

    Peter the Whaler W.H.G. Kingston
British Dictionary definitions for greenhorn


an inexperienced person, esp one who is extremely gullible
(mainly US) a newcomer or immigrant
Word Origin
C17: originally an animal with green (that is, young) horns
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 greenhorn

mid-15c., "young horned animal," from green (adj.) in sense of "new, fresh, recent" + horn (n.). Applied to new soldiers from c.1650; extended to any inexperienced person by 1680s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for greenhorn



An inexperienced person; newcomer; neophyte; rookie (1753+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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