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Dilettante

Artwiculate-Twitter logo (Tweeting as @TSupercargo)

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Dilettante: A person who loves the arts; someone who is interested in something (especially the arts), but who does not know much about it; a person with an amateur rather than professional interest in a subject. As adjective: of or characteristic of a dilettante.
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Now that artwiculate dilettante @TheSupercargo has passed the ball once again to a real pro, the RT round-up can begin!

This was a word that attracted a considerable number of definitions, not all of them entirely serious. (I hope!)

Of course, the word is somewhat ambiguous. On the one hand it means a person who loves the arts, without qualification; on the other it’s, well, let’s just say there were a lot of references today to someone called Jack.

RT @goldenskye Dilettante: (n) jack of all trades, master of none; a polymath.

@goldenskye’s tweet nicely picked up both senses … unless she meant to denigrate polymaths as well.

According to my research (ahem, Wikipedia), the positive sense of dilettante arrived in English only slightly ahead of the negative.

Both senses were illustrated by enthusiastic and erudite artwiculati.

RT @squawkingalah As a dilettante, I needed to find a profession where broad but shallow engagement would work. I found journalism.

RT @Awdures The cure for boredom is curiosity; is it better to be dilettante than troglodyte or polymath? I think I prefer curious

RT @K_Geddings I’m but a dilettante in the art of profanity. But my Mom, a true master of the medium, never saw the irony in calling me a son of a bitch.

RT @LBY3 @artwiculate You say “dilettante,” I say “well-rounded.”

RT @MaltaGoddess Cobblestones and high heels are a match for the pros. The dilettante in my street is about to learn the hard way.

RT @mazpowles Dilettante is a pejorative term coined by a man who could only handle doing one thing at a time.

RT @minibtweet An intellectual butterfly, cultivating ideas, flitting around, without conviction or commitment free as a dilettante

RT @SJHatzi No either/or – the best of both worlds: a dilettante’s joy in all one does for work; dabble away ably w/ the ethos of a pro.

RT @baccatum She played around making layered desserts, but she wasn’t a dilettante baker. She was more of a trifler

RT @kado56 Well versed in the ways of serendipity, untiringly devoted to artistic promiscuity, singularly eclectic- behold the dilettante!

RT @TiddK Your dilettante ways with me / So skin deep, so frustrating / The art of love needs time & care / It’s not a childrens plaything

That rat-tat-tat of tweets was supposed to give you definitions and illustrations of the word alternating between its two senses.

I choose not to come down on one side or the other in the question of which definition is the right one. It all depends what you mean.

For example, if “dilettante” is the opposite of “professional”, it does not necessarily follow that the former is negative.

RT @Gardencomet The Titanic was built by professionals. Noah was a dilettante

And consider the economic argument:

RT @InVinceWil Art thrives on the dilettante. Artists don’t support art.

Anyway …

RT @californiakara I’d rather be a poor, happy dilettante than a rich, miserable SOB.

There were a lot of people who made the connection dilettante/debutante. I confess to being thrown by this one until I realised that American English allows the WOTD to have only 3 syllables. (That’s why there’s not a single Haiku today, btw).

Anyway, here’s the tweet that help the penny to drop for me:

RT @StarofSavannah The debutante pulled out a paint-by-numbers kit. She proudly announced that she was also a dilettante.

Thank you, @StarofSavannah!

Let me wind things up with a few tweets that didn’t seem so take by the definition dispute:

RT @antonioortegajr I never had enough ambition to be Dilettante.

RT @lexiconehead What can be said about the dilettante fontographer? Que serif, serif.

RT @fiberqat No gallery showing was too obtuse or recherche for Duchess di Dilettante.

RT @navinsasikumar RIP: My Lord Dilettante – He dabbled in crocodile infested waters

RT @Bkeller49 Eclectic cover band Dabbler and the Dilettante s.

RT @languageNhumor My French aunt, Tante Claudette, is a dabbler, a dilettante. But my uncle is no diletoncle. #artwiculate #frenchwordplay

RT @eilonwya10 Love of spice was Aunt Marie’s kitchen vice; her brief passion for Anethum graveolens proved her a dilettante. #artwiculate

(That one had me looking through my dictionaries and when I found Anethum graveolens, I was impressed. In this household, is also a Dill-e-Tante! [She’ll kill me!])

RT @JonPowles The name is Tante. Dilettante. Agent 003.5. Licensed to get quite cross.

And so to my finale. Etymologically. I’d have liked to quote an Italian tweet, in lieu of that, here’s @tinanguyen’s French:

RT @tinanguyen Oui, ma tante, un poète dilettante #sixwords #artwiculate

And that’s that. Rounded-up and posted off. Handing back to @TheSupercargo now.

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Artwiculate is a game played on Twitter. Visit http://artwiculate.com for more information. The winning tweet and the most popular runners up for today’s word are listed at http://www.artwiculate.com/words/dilettante (And, for addicts, don’t forget Salon ArtWois at http://www.salonartwois.com/ )