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See also: expérience



From Middle English, from Old French, from Latin experientia (a trial, proof, experiment, experimental knowledge, experience), from experiens, present participle of experiri (to try, put to the test, undertake, undergo), from ex (out) + peritus (experienced, expert), past participle of *periri (to go through); see expert and peril.



experience (countable and uncountable, plural experiences)

  1. The effect upon the judgment or feelings produced by any event, whether witnessed or participated in; personal and direct impressions as contrasted with description or fancies; personal acquaintance; actual enjoyment or suffering.
    It was an experience he would not soon forget.
    • (Can we date this quote by Sharp and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      Those that undertook the religion of our Savior upon his preaching, had no experience of it.
    • 1913, Robert Barr, chapter 4, in Lord Stranleigh Abroad[1]:
      “I have tried, as I hinted, to enlist the co-operation of other capitalists, but experience has taught me that any appeal is futile that does not impinge directly upon cupidity. []
  2. (countable) An activity one has performed.
  3. (countable) A collection of events and/or activities from which an individual or group may gather knowledge, opinions, and skills.
    • (Can we date this quote by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      To most men experience is like the stern lights of a ship, which illumine only the track it has passed.
    • (Can we date this quote by Holland and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      When the consuls [] came in [] they knew soon by experience how slenderly guarded against danger the majesty of rulers is where force is wanting.
    • (Can we date this quote by John Locke and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      Whence hath the mind all the materials of reason and knowledge? To this I answer in one word, from experience.
  4. (uncountable) The knowledge thus gathered.
    • 2013 June 7, Ed Pilkington, “‘Killer robots’ should be banned in advance, UN told”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 188, number 26, page 6:
      In his submission to the UN, [Christof] Heyns points to the experience of drones. Unmanned aerial vehicles were intended initially only for surveillance, and their use for offensive purposes was prohibited, yet once strategists realised their perceived advantages as a means of carrying out targeted killings, all objections were swept out of the way.
  5. (obsolete, uncountable) Trial; a test or experiment.
    • (Can we date this quote by Edmund Spenser and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      She caused him to make experience / Upon wild beasts.

Usage notes[edit]



Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


experience (third-person singular simple present experiences, present participle experiencing, simple past and past participle experienced)

  1. (transitive) To observe certain events; undergo a certain feeling or process; or perform certain actions that may alter one or contribute to one's knowledge, opinions, or skills.


Derived terms[edit]


Further reading[edit]


  • experience at OneLook Dictionary Search
  • experience in Keywords for Today: A 21st Century Vocabulary, edited by The Keywords Project, Colin MacCabe, Holly Yanacek, 2018.
  • "experience" in Raymond Williams, Keywords (revised), 1983, Fontana Press, page 126.
  • experience in The Century Dictionary, The Century Co., New York, 1911
  • experience in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.