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  1. a beginner or novice: He's a neophyte at chess.
  2. Roman Catholic Church. a novice.
  3. a person newly converted to a belief, as a heathen, heretic, or nonbeliever; proselyte.
  4. Primitive Church. a person newly baptized.
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Origin of neophyte

1540–50; < Late Latin neophytus newly planted < Greek neóphytos. See neo-, -phyte
Related formsne·o·phyt·ic [nee-uh-fit-ik] /ˌni əˈfɪt ɪk/, ne·o·phyt·ish [nee-uh-fahy-tish] /ˈni əˌfaɪ tɪʃ/, adjectivene·o·phyt·ism [nee-uh-fahy-tiz-uhm] /ˈni ə faɪˌtɪz əm/, noun


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for neophyte


  1. a person newly converted to a religious faith
  2. RC Church a novice in a religious order
  3. a novice or beginner
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Derived Formsneophytic (ˌniːəʊˈfɪtɪk), adjective

Word Origin

C16: via Church Latin from New Testament Greek neophutos recently planted, from neos new + phuton a plant
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

Word Origin and History for neophyte


"new convert," 1550s, from Ecclesiastical Latin neophytus, from Greek neophytos "a new convert," noun use of adjective meaning "newly initiated, newly converted," literally "newly planted," from neos "new" (see new) + phytos "grown; planted," verbal adjective of phyein "cause to grow, beget, plant" (see physic). Church sense is from I Tim. iii:6. Rare before 19c. General sense of "one who is new to any subject" is first recorded 1590s.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper