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[roo k-ee] /ˈrʊk i/
an athlete playing his or her first season as a member of a professional sports team:
The rookie replaced the injured regular at first base.
a raw recruit, as in the army or on a police force.
a novice; tyro.
Origin of rookie
1890-95; alteration of recruit; see -y2 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for rookie
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • rookie, you don't want anything really, do you, except to stand by and give us all a boost when we're down?

    Old Crow Alice Brown
  • "rookie" is the term by which a new recruit is designated in Army slang.

    Uncle Sam's Boys in the Ranks H. Irving Hancock
  • Yet I am convinced that what will best control the Plattsburg rookie is the Plattsburg non-com.

    At Plattsburg Allen French
  • A Reservist is a dug-out, a recruit a rookie, and a veteran an old sweat.

    Anecdotes of the Great War Carleton Britton Case
  • Is it allowable, Sergeant, for a rookie to ask what this is all about?

    Uncle Sam's Boys in the Ranks H. Irving Hancock
British Dictionary definitions for rookie


(informal) an inexperienced person or newcomer, esp a raw recruit in the army
Word Origin
C20: changed from recruit
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for rookie

"raw recruit," 1892 in that spelling, popularized by Kipling's "Barrack-Room Ballads," of uncertain origin, perhaps from recruit, influenced by rook (n.1) in its secondary sense, suggesting "easy to cheat." Barrère ["A Dictionary of Slang, Jargon & Cant," 1890] has "Rookey (army), a recruit; from the black coat some of them wear," so perhaps directly from rook (n.1). Came into general use in American English during the Spanish-American War.

The rapid growth of a word from a single seed transplanted in a congenial soil is one of the curiosities of literature. Take a single instance. A few weeks ago there was not one American soldier in a thousand who knew there was such a word as "rookey." To-day there are few soldiers and ex-soldiers who have not substituted it for "raw recruit." ["The Midland Monthly," December 1898]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for rookie



: The shooting of ''rookie'' patrolman James A Broderick


A newcomer; recruit; tyro: the rookies and substitutes (1892+)

[probably fr shortening of recruit; perhaps fr the black, rook-colored coat worn by some British army recruits]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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