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A dilettante (from Italian dilettante , present participle from dilettarsi , like Italian dilettare , “to inspire / delight someone; to love”, from Latin delectari “to enjoy”) is a lover of an art or science who does not feel like a school Education and not professionally involved. As an amateur or layman, he practices something for its own sake, i.e. out of interest , pleasure or passion, and thus differs from a professional . In doing so, he may have acquired perfect knowledge and skills; as long as he does not pursue the activity (as a "hobby") professionally or for his livelihood or has passed a recognized relevant examination, he is considered a dilettante.

Colloquially, the terms “dilettante” and “dilettante” are used disparagingly. An activity carried out “amateurishly” is then equated with “unprofessional”, “improperly”, “faulty”, “ bumbling ” or “superficially carried out”.

In modern times, a synthesis of both conceptual interpretations has emerged. Dilettantism is the inability to grasp lower problems and to deal with them appropriately. For this reason, the actions of a dilettante often appear amusing, which is closer to the original word origin than z. B. the synonym "bungling".


British caricature from 1803 about amateur theater performances. Title: "Dilettanti-theatricals"

The term originally applied to the untrained artist or art lover. He's with the verb dabble since the 18th century in the German occupied and was especially found in the name of musical works "for connoisseurs and lovers" were written. The word was in no way intended to be derogatory, but rather served to distinguish the activities of the nobles from those of those who had to carry out their livelihood.

In the 1980s, musicians who alluded to all the traditions of pop music described themselves as “ Geniale Dilletanten ”, who (deliberately) diletted in their spelling. Among them were bands like Die Tödliche Doris and Einstürzende Neubauten .

Famous amateurs

Dilettantes as a motive in literature

Examples of the dilettante as a motif in literature are the two title characters in Bouvard and Pécuchet by Gustave Flaubert or the dilettante theater in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream , which Goethe later used in the first part of Faust .


  • Wolfgang Müller (Ed.): Geniale Dilletanten. Merve Verlag Berlin 1982, ISBN 3-88396-021-7 .
  • Safia Azzouni, Uwe Wirth: Dilettantism as a profession. Kadmos, Berlin 2009, ISBN 978-3-86599-080-8 .
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: About the so-called dilettantism or the practical hobby in the arts. In: Goethe's works. Complete edition last hand. Volume 44: Goethe's posthumous works. Cotta, Stuttgart / Tübingen 1833, pp. 256-285. Digitized . - see also about amateurism .

Web links

Wiktionary: Dilettante  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

See also

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Friedrich Kluge , Alfred Götze : Etymological dictionary of the German language . 20th ed., Ed. by Walther Mitzka , De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1967; Reprint (“21st unchanged edition”) ibid 1975, ISBN 3-11-005709-3 , p. 133.
  2. Christoph Weißer: On the quality of medical history articles in recent clinical journals. Critical remarks using the example of the history of trauma surgery. In: Würzburg medical history reports. Volume 23, 2004, pp. 436–445, here: p. 436.