Definition of apprentice in English:



  • 1A person who is learning a trade from a skilled employer, having agreed to work for a fixed period at low wages.

    [as modifier] ‘an apprentice electrician’
    • ‘The past few years have seen a sharp increase in the number of apprentices, especially in the construction trades.’
    • ‘Around 150 skilled men joined the apprentices in protest.’
    • ‘In the past the minimum wage never applied to apprentices who were employed under the Apprenticeship Act.’
    • ‘Of 16 apprentices in an electrician's training program, three are women.’
    • ‘In preparation for this four-year course he has been attempting to find a plumber who would be willing to take him on during this period as an apprentice.’
    • ‘Others might go for a while to a secondary school to receive further instruction in reading, writing, and arithmetic, and then be sent for training in crafts or trades, often as apprentices to a master in whose household they would live.’
    • ‘There was also an alarming 15 percent decline in the number of apprentices in training, comparing the same periods.’
    • ‘Rob left education at sixteen and became an apprentice for an electrician.’
    • ‘It is often asserted that by keeping wages low for apprentices, employers will automatically take more on.’
    • ‘Trade apprentices are charged the fee for the two 10-week periods they spend as part of their training at the colleges.’
    • ‘Many of the rest are working for their families, on the land, in small artisanal businesses, or as apprentices in trades that their families have carried out for generations.’
    • ‘This language has an old-fashioned ring, and was designed for a minor becoming an apprentice in a skilled trade.’
    • ‘In traditional apprenticeship models, apprentices learn a trade or skill through working closely with expert trades-people.’
    • ‘Real learning begins with an apprentice working at the elbow of a master craftsman, but there were not enough scholarly elbows to go around as the numbers swelled.’
    • ‘They also sought to limit the number of apprentices entering their trades, because of the inevitable consequence of depressing wage rates; this has remained a feature of some craft unions to this day.’
    • ‘Younger members of the family came into the business as apprentices, learning the trade, and eventually inheriting the business.’
    • ‘It doesn't matter how much money we give employers to take on apprentices in tradition trades - in gas fitting, in tiling, in welding and carpentry.’
    • ‘Boys, too, were often encouraged to go to technical schools or to begin work as an apprentice in a trade.’
    • ‘Learning the trade and being an apprentice for years only to then acquire years of on the job experience is what custom furniture is all about.’
    • ‘Up to thirty skilled men and apprentices were employed from the surrounding villages, coming to work on foot or by bicycle.’
    trainee, learner, probationer, tyro, novice, mentee, neophyte, raw recruit, fledgling, new boy, new girl, novitiate
    pupil, student
    beginner, starter
    rookie, greenhorn, tenderfoot
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1[usually as modifier]A beginner.
      ‘an apprentice barman’
      • ‘Including the source code in a virus is like adding DIY instructions for apprentice hackers, since it makes it easier for the less-skilled to make many more versions of new viruses.’
      • ‘Each summer, the company invites a boatload of bright young apprentice singers, all hoping for some quality stage experience.’
      • ‘Trainers use apprentice riders because they get a five-pound weight advantage.’
      • ‘The Cappagh County Waterford rider was crowned leading apprentice jockey in England for 2004 and he celebrated by riding a winner at Royal Ascot.’
      • ‘Rose, 26, of State College, Pennsylvania, won the Eclipse Award outstanding apprentice jockey in 2001.’
      • ‘Two furlongs out, the field bunched and the apprentice jockey moved his mount out to try to get a run from fifth place.’
      • ‘With 239 winners to his credit, he leads all other apprentice riders in wins and ranks 17th overall through Wednesday.’
      • ‘The station was loaded up with apprentice bingo callers and Algonquin grads who were grateful to have a job.’
      • ‘Young people are amongst the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs - or apprentice millionaires - in Australia.’
      • ‘The twenty four year-old apprentice novelist volunteered to fight for the League and was injured in ‘face and chest’.’
      • ‘We can no longer think of ourselves as apprentice angels.’
      • ‘The stricken animal tangled with another horse, Don Argento, felling his fellow apprentice jockey.’
      • ‘And this apprentice Goon will sadly mourn his passing.’
      • ‘To help young jockeys get a foothold in the sport, those under 26 can claim a weight allowance in certain races (they are known as apprentice jockeys).’
      • ‘So now we have ‘chief entrepreneurs’ - but perhaps we need some other titles, such as apprentice entrepreneur?’
      • ‘A last-minute mount became the first winner for the apprentice jockey at Bay Meadows Race Course on Saturday.’
      • ‘The man, last year's champion apprentice jockey, had no trouble finding the winner's circle at Del Mar.’
      • ‘Britain's champion apprentice rider two years ago, he will take up a new post as a stable-jockey near Thirsk when the Flat turf season kicks into gear in March.’


  • 1 Employ (someone) as an apprentice.

    ‘Edward was apprenticed to a printer’
    • ‘This was also the period in which young women were apprenticed to seamstresses, to prepare their trousseau and be initiated into the skills of seduction.’
    • ‘When I was fourteen I was apprenticed to a dental mechanic for a five-year apprenticeship.’
    • ‘He was apprenticed to a photographer, and soon established his own business in Bath.’
    • ‘On leaving school, Walter was briefly apprenticed to a chemist in Birmingham and spent his leisure time attending medical lectures.’
    • ‘The artist may be said to have been his own master, because, even when he was apprenticed to a painter he was taught less than he already knew.’
    • ‘He was then apprenticed to a cabinet maker, receiving a thorough training in woodworking.’
    • ‘In 1706 he was apprenticed to a printer (as his father could not afford to enter him for the Church), and in 1715 he was admitted a freeman of the Stationers' Company.’
    • ‘Boys were apprenticed to a master until they were 24 years old.’
    • ‘William was apprenticed to a cobbler and was a trained journeyman by the age of 11.’
    • ‘He left the Blue Coat School at 14, when he was apprenticed to the grocery trade.’
    • ‘I was apprenticed to my father, but there was no joy in working with him.’
    • ‘At the age of 15 years, he was apprenticed to an ironmaster's firm in Aberdeen, but a breakdown in health prevented him from continuing this pursuit.’
    • ‘As a youth he was apprenticed to a tailor until about the age of sixteen when reconciliation with his wealthy grandfather enabled him to be educated at Oxford.’
    • ‘At about the age of sixteen he was apprenticed to a sign painter in whose shop his work included painting tinned cans.’
    • ‘At twelve, he was apprenticed to his brother James, who had set up as a printer.’
    • ‘He was apprenticed to a local painter-decorator, 1905-9, then studied at the Dresden School of Arts and Crafts, 1910-14.’
    • ‘So it happened that beginning at age six I was apprenticed to an old world craftsman.’
    • ‘Women have been banned from the stage for years and pretty boys are apprenticed to theatre owners to learn stagecraft and female roles.’
    • ‘Following the death of his brother Geoff, in 1947, he was apprenticed to his father, a renowned blacksmith's farrier.’
    • ‘His career spanned over eighty years, beginning when he was apprenticed to an artist at the age of 10, and only ending at his death from plague at the age of 91.’
    1. 1.1North American [no object]Serve as an apprentice.
      ‘she apprenticed with midwives in San Francisco’
      • ‘He's apprenticing as a merchant in Olbeer now, so I only hope he's not getting into trouble.’
      • ‘It is also part of the way of Wicca that those who have apprenticed and learned their lessons from their teachers eventually leave to start their own group.’
      • ‘There she apprenticed for three years with a Portuguese framer.’
      • ‘Then they apprenticed with one of their parents for a year.’
      • ‘After apprenticing at a St. Paul publishing firm, he joined the army.’
      • ‘He founded his own business in the mid 1970s, and by 2004, at least fifteen master artists currently heading their own studios had apprenticed under him.’
      • ‘Either you apprentice with a Master or inherit the job.’
      • ‘Sons apprenticed with dads, and daughters learned from moms.’
      • ‘‘She has apprenticed under several shrine maidens as well as sword masters,’ noted one of the princesses.’
      • ‘Instead of going to college, young Taylor opted to go to work at the racetrack, where he apprenticed in nearly every phase of training Thoroughbreds.’
      • ‘He apprenticed with his father, a watchmaker, before moving to Switzerland, to work as a journeyman in Basel, and then to Neuchatel to study watchmaking.’
      • ‘What am I apprenticing for that would require… this?’
      • ‘Michel spent a year apprenticing but he's clumsy and often drunk, so nobody really trusts him.’
      • ‘As he opened his mouth, I expected him to yell at me, but, instead, he said calmly, ‘I had apprenticed… as a carpenter.’’
      • ‘Although I apprenticed and am initiated into Wicca, I am well aware that what each teacher teaches is, to a greater or lesser degree, their version.’
      • ‘I apprenticed for a well known barrel racer my last year.’
      • ‘Trained together, they apprenticed together and turned pro at nearly the same time; it's likely they've been friendly rivals for at least half their lives.’
      • ‘But while workshops are helpful, those who truly want to master certain styles have always apprenticed with teachers who specialize in those styles.’
      • ‘After graduating, she apprenticed at various textile and design studios in New York.’
      • ‘In fact, 10 of the 11 high-end designers interviewed had apprenticed in one or more leading design companies before they took the helm themselves.’


Middle English: from Old French aprentis (from apprendre learn, from Latin apprehendere apprehend), on the pattern of words ending in -tis, -tif, from Latin -tivus (see -ive).