[roo k-ee]
See more synonyms for rookie on
  1. an athlete playing his or her first season as a member of a professional sports team: The rookie replaced the injured regular at first base.
  2. a raw recruit, as in the army or on a police force.
  3. a novice; tyro.

Origin of rookie

1890–95; alteration of recruit; see -y2 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for rookie

Contemporary Examples of rookie

Historical Examples of rookie

  • And he wasn't forgetting Keesey, the rookie who'd replaced him.

    The Hoofer

    Walter M. Miller

  • "Rookie" is the term by which a new recruit is designated in Army slang.

  • Is it allowable, Sergeant, for a rookie to ask what this is all about?

  • Yet I am convinced that what will best control the Plattsburg rookie is the Plattsburg non-com.

    At Plattsburg

    Allen French

  • Then he was just a busher, a rookie, a nobody who had his reputation yet to win.

British Dictionary definitions for rookie


  1. informal an inexperienced person or newcomer, esp a raw recruit in the army

Word Origin for rookie

C20: changed from recruit
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 rookie

"raw recruit," 1892 in that spelling, popularized by Kipling's "Barrack-Room Ballads," of uncertain origin, perhaps from recruit, influenced by rook (n.1) in its secondary sense, suggesting "easy to cheat." Barrère ["A Dictionary of Slang, Jargon & Cant," 1890] has "Rookey (army), a recruit; from the black coat some of them wear," so perhaps directly from rook (n.1). Came into general use in American English during the Spanish-American War.

The rapid growth of a word from a single seed transplanted in a congenial soil is one of the curiosities of literature. Take a single instance. A few weeks ago there was not one American soldier in a thousand who knew there was such a word as "rookey." To-day there are few soldiers and ex-soldiers who have not substituted it for "raw recruit." ["The Midland Monthly," December 1898]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper