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Novice vs. Beginner: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Updated on October 11, 2023
A novice is someone new to a particular field, often with formal training or in a religious context, while a beginner is simply someone just starting out in any activity.

Key Differences

Novice often denotes someone who has just embarked on a new profession, discipline, or skill and may have had formal initiation or training. In contrast, beginner implies a broader context and signifies someone starting from scratch in any given activity, without any prerequisite of formal induction.
The term novice has religious connotations in certain contexts. For instance, in monastic orders, a novice is someone who has been accepted into the community but hasn't taken their final vows. Beginner, on the other hand, lacks these specific religious undertones and maintains a more general meaning.
When thinking about skills or hobbies, a novice is someone who may have received formal instruction or some foundational knowledge but lacks experience. A beginner, conversely, might not have any foundational knowledge or training at all and is taking the first steps in that activity.
In some contexts, novice suggests a more committed approach or dedication to the pursuit. For example, one might be a novice monk, implying a specific path being undertaken. In contrast, a beginner guitarist might be trying out the instrument for fun without any immediate plans for serious dedication.
Novice might sometimes suggest a transitional phase, a step towards greater expertise or commitment. Beginner, however, paints a picture of someone at the starting line, with the entire journey ahead.

Comparison Chart

Primary Meaning

Someone new to a particular field, possibly with formal training.
Someone starting any activity from scratch.


Can have religious undertones, especially in monastic settings.
General term without specific undertones.

Level of Training

May have foundational knowledge or formal instruction.
Might lack foundational knowledge.

Commitment Level

Implies a dedicated approach or path being undertaken in certain contexts.
More casual; initial stages of any activity.

Transitional Phase

Suggests moving towards expertise or a greater commitment.
Indicates the starting phase.

Novice and Beginner Definitions


Someone inexperienced in a profession or skill.
Despite being a novice, he showed great promise in painting.


One who is inexperienced in a particular area.
Being a beginner, he made a few mistakes in his presentation.


A person new to a situation or activity.
Sarah is a novice in the world of digital marketing.


A person just starting to learn a skill or undertake an activity.
Lucy is a beginner at the piano, so she's learning the basics.


One who is in the early stages of formal training.
The martial arts class consisted of experts and novices.


An individual at the introductory phase of any endeavor.
As a beginner in the culinary world, she stuck to simple recipes.


A person who has entered a religious order but not taken final vows.
The novice spent hours in prayer and reflection.


Someone at the start of a journey or process.
Every expert was once a beginner.


A person new to a field or activity; a beginner.


One that begins.


A person who has entered a religious order but has not yet taken final vows. Also called novitiate.


One who is just starting to learn or do something; a novice.


A beginner; one who is not very familiar or experienced in a particular subject.
I'm only a novice at coding, and my programs frequently have bugs that more experienced programmers would avoid.


Someone who is just starting at something, or has only recently started.
I'm new to learning Finnish: I'm just a beginner.


(religion) A new member of a religious order accepted on a conditional basis, prior to confirmation.


Someone who sets something in motion.
The beginner of the games lit the ceremonial torch.


One who is new in any business, profession, or calling; one unacquainted or unskilled; one yet in the rudiments; a beginner; a tyro.
I am young; a novice in the trade.


(theatre) An actor who is present on stage in the first moments of a play.


One newly received into the church, or one newly converted to the Christian faith.


One who begins or originates anything. Specifically: A young or inexperienced practitioner or student; a tyro.
A sermon of a new beginner.


One who enters a religious house, whether of monks or nuns, as a probationist.
No poore cloisterer, nor no novys.


Someone new to a field or activity


Like a novice; becoming a novice.


A person who founds or establishes some institution;
George Washington is the father of his country


Someone who has entered a religious order but has not taken final vows


One who takes up an activity for the first time.
She was a beginner in yoga and was eager to learn.


Someone new to a field or activity


Someone newly introduced to a particular field.
As a novice investor, he sought advice from experts.


Is every beginner untrained?

Not necessarily, but beginners are typically at the start of their learning journey.

Which term implies more dedication?

Novice, in some contexts, implies a more committed approach.

Is "novice" always a religious term?

No, but it can have religious connotations, especially in monastic contexts.

Can someone be both a novice and a beginner?

Yes, depending on the context. A novice guitarist might also be a beginner in singing.

Can a novice have some training?

Yes, a novice may have had formal training but lacks experience.

Are beginners always inexperienced?

Typically, yes. The term suggests someone at the start of their learning.

Is being a beginner a lifelong stage?

No, as one gains experience, they move past the beginner stage.

Can you be a novice in one area and an expert in another?

Absolutely. One might be a novice painter but an expert pianist.

How long does someone stay a novice?

It varies; a novice remains until they gain more experience or complete formal requirements.

Is there a time limit on being a beginner?

No, it's more about experience level than specific time duration.

Can a novice compete professionally?

Depending on the field, novices might compete in beginner or novice categories.

Which term is broader in application?

Beginner, as it's a general term used across various activities.

Is every student a beginner?

Not necessarily. A student can be at any level of expertise.

Do beginners have a specific goal?

Not always. Beginners might be exploring or learning casually.

Is every novice a beginner?

Not necessarily. A novice may have foundational knowledge, whereas a beginner is just starting out.

Does novice imply a transition to expertise?

In many contexts, yes. It suggests moving towards greater expertise.

Can one remain a novice indefinitely?

It's possible if they don't progress or choose not to move to the next level.

How does one transition from novice to expert?

Through gaining experience, training, practice, and sometimes formal qualification.

Do novices have mentors?

Often, novices might have mentors or teachers guiding them.

Do beginners need formal instruction?

Not always; beginners can learn informally or through self-study.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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