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See also: néophyte



Borrowed from Latin neophytus, from Ancient Greek νεόφυτος (neóphutos, newly planted), from νέος (néos, new) + φυτόν (phutón, plant, child). Surface analysis is neo- +‎ -phyte.



neophyte (plural neophytes)

  1. A beginner; a person who is new to a subject, skill, or belief.
    Synonyms: beginner, newbie, newcomer, starter
    • 1927-29, M.K. Gandhi, The Story of My Experiments with Truth, translated 1940 by Mahadev Desai, Part I, Chapter xvii:
      A convert's enthusiasm for his new religion is greater than that of a person who is born in it. Vegetarianism was then a new cult in England, and likewise for me, because, as we have seen, I had gone there a convinced meat-eater, and was intellectually converted to vegetarianism later. Full of the neophyte's zeal for vegetarianism, I decided to start a vegetarian club in my locality, Bayswater. I invited Sir Edwin Arnold, who lived there, to be Vice-President. Dr. Oldfield who was Editor of the The Vegetarian became President. I myself became the Secretary. The club went well for a while, but came to an end in the course of a few months. For I left the locality, according to my custom of moving from place to place periodically. But this brief and modest experience gave me some little training in organizing and conducting institutions.
    • 2016 October 16, “Third Parties”, in Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, season 3, episode 26, HBO:
      Anyone who goes into a voting booth on November the 8th and comes out saying, “I feel a hundred percent great about what I just did in there!,” is either lying to themselves, or did something unspeakable in that booth! And that means, as uncomfortable as this is, everyone has to own the floors of whoever you vote for, whether they are a lying handsy narcissistic sociopath, a hawkish Wall Street-friendly embodiment of everything that some people can’t stand about politics, an ill-tempered mountain molester with a radical dangerous tax plan that even he can’t defend, or a conspiracy-pandering political neophyte with no clear understanding of how government operates and who once recorded this folk rap about the virtues of bicycling.
  2. A novice (recent convert); a new convert or proselyte; a new monk.
    • 1936, Rollo Ahmed, The Black Art, London: Long, page 107:
      The neophyte was given a new name in place of the baptismal one, usually of an evil and revolting character, and this was written in blood in the Devil's book, the covers of which were bound in the skin of unbaptised infants.
    Synonym: novice
  3. (Christianity) A name given by the early Christians, and still given by the Roman Catholics, to those who have recently embraced the Christian faith, and been admitted to baptism, especially those converts from heathenism or Judaism.
    Synonym: catechumen
  4. (botany) A plant species recently introduced to an area (in contrast to archaeophyte, a long-established introduced species).
    Antonym: archaeophyte




  • Random House Dictionary, 2nd Edition, 1987.

Further reading[edit]





  1. vocative masculine singular of neophytus