In modern-day English, an “amateur” is someone inexperienced in a particular pursuit; a person who performs a hobby without professional skills. (You know this already, unless your vocabulary is, let’s say, amateur.)
It’s a word often used with a jeer. It’s not a label most of us wear with pride. We’d rather be professionals, specialists, gurus, experts — the words we scatter across our LinkedIn profiles, praying people will take us seriously and see us as successful.
But the word “amateur” dates back to 1784, with its roots in French and Latin. What it originally meant was “lover.” It was used to describe someone enthusiastic and passionate about a pastime, with no negative connotation and with expertise rendered irrelevant.