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Thought to be an alteration of recruit +‎ -ie, or from rook (a cheat) +‎ -ie. Another possible origin is Dutch broekie (short for broekvent (a boy still in short trousers)), a common term for a shipmate. Also suggested is Irish rúca (an inexperienced person).


  • IPA(key): /ˈɹʊki/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ʊki


rookie (plural rookies)

  1. An inexperienced recruit, especially in the police or armed forces.
  2. A novice.
  3. An athlete either new to the sport or to a team or in his first year of professional competition, especially said of baseball, basketball, hockey and American football players.
  4. (British) A type of firecracker, used by farmers to scare rooks.


Derived terms[edit]



rookie (comparative rookier, superlative rookiest)

  1. non-professional; amateur
    The game was going well until I made that rookie mistake.
    the rookiest of rookie mistakes



rookie (third-person singular simple present rookies, present participle rookying, simple past and past participle rookied)

  1. (intransitive) To be a rookie; to go through one's inexperienced learning period in a job, team, or organization.
    • 2002, Smokejumpers, page 67:
      In 1977 he rookied as a smokejumper with the International Forest Fire Systems, a private firm that contracted smokejumping services to Canada's Northwest Territories.
    • 2009, Jonathan Kellerman, Billy Straight:
      As they go ton the stretch of road that ran between the park and the 5 Freeway, Stu said 'Schoelkopf gave me the kind of lecture I haven't heard since I rookied. [] '
    • 2016, Bill Loomis, On This Day in Detroit History, page 89:
      He rookied in 1980 and settled in to play right field for the Detroit Tigers from 1983 to 1987 and was critical to the Tigers winning the 1984 World Series against the San Diego Padres.
    • 2019, Heather West, Jax: Iron Bandits MC:
      Grath and I had joined the Iron Bandits MC the same year; pledged together, rookied together.
  2. (transitive, chiefly sports) To haze one or more rookies as an initiation ritual.
    • 1919, Harold C. Bloxham, “Training at La Courtine”, in The History of Battery E, 66th Artillery C. A. C., page 86:
      Great was my surprise when I found that I had been "rookied" in for a policing-up detail with no chance to "allez."
    • 1947, National Association of Secondary School Principals, Bulletin, page 40:
      There is none of that 'rookying stuff' but they don't pay any attention to you either, and that is worse.
    • 2002, Celia Brackenridge, Kari Fasting, Sexual Harassment and Abuse in Sport:
      I was rookied in women's (ice) hockey mid-winter. I was made to strip nude and walk into McDonald's and order a big Mac.
    • 2007, Kevin Young, Philip White, Sport and Gender in Canada, page 313:
      Last year when I was 'rookied' they had this whole agenda where you had to do a ' shot ' [ of alcohol ] and run around and do this little circuit [ race ] —the idea was to get everyone to puke that night or just get totally hammered ... the majority of the people [rookies] were knocked out [physically unable to continue] by ten o'clock.
    • 2013, Curtis Fogel, Game-Day Gangsters: Crime and Deviance in Canadian Football, page 59:
      As long as a player is a rookie, they are susceptible to being "rookied,” although initiations typically occur at the beginning of the season, or just before.

See also[edit]




Unadapted borrowing from English rookie.



rookie m or f by sense (plural rookies)

  1. rookie

Usage notes[edit]

  • According to Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) prescriptions, unadapted foreign words should be written in italics in a text printed in roman type, and vice versa, and in quotation marks in a manuscript text or when italics are not available. In practice, this RAE prescription is not always followed.