When is amateur not amateur?

I was reading a few things about Dr. Basye’s roses, and frequently I saw “amateur” with his name, and I thought it was funny. The man studied the genetics on the molecular level and had several decades of breeding behind his back. He created amphidiploids, and other things. So wouldn’t he be considered as an expert? Who is considered amateur?


I always thought the difference between amateur and professional has to do with how one earns their upkeep in life. To me, a professional is someone that would earn their living solely by the breeding, patenting/trade marking and sales of their creations. He may be referred to as an amateur because he was funded by secondary means. Maybe that is what the text meant. Then again, I am probably wrong =)


Jadae hit the nail on the head! Today we use the word amateur in the sense of a beginner, not fully competent, a person who did a job that was rather immperfect, a botched up job. Originally this term was often used in music concerning performers. Many very wealthy people and/or those of the noble class and studied music from childhood and were truly talented. They would only perform in their homes or at the homes of friends but not in public because it was a no-no for them to receive money ( they just didn’t work). But oh they were gifted. Some of Bach’s patrons played in music ensembles right along with him!

I have thought of this term alot since being on the Garden Web. Think of Ann Peck. Probably she is in the top ten of those in our country who know about rose rosette disease but she is an amateur since she does not earn her living studying this topic. If she were employed by some university persuing this then she would be a professional. I often think when I am on the Garden Web how many amateurs in the TRUE sense of the word we are fortunate to have participating in the rose forums (we have a lot of newbies too but that’s how we all begin and learn).

I lurked on it for many years and have watched your posts from the beginning and have seen how through your interest in roses and hard work how you have grown in knowledge and experience and are growing in this area. I have often thought that I hope to see a rose bred by Enrique on the market before I die. Once you start earning your livelihood by breeding roses, then you are a professional and your avocation has become your vocation!


Jim P. makes a great point about the true sense of the word amateur. The root of the word ‘amateur’ is the Latin word ‘amator’, which means ‘lover’. Originally, an amateur was someone who did something for the love it, rather than for money. Dr. Basye was a professor of mathematics, so he was a professional mathematician, not a professional geneticist. He didn’t earn anything from his work with roses, he just did it for the love of roses. It seems that the greatest advances in all fields are made by people who truly love what they are doing, rather than by people who do it for a paycheck.

Amateur and expert are not mutually exclusive terms.

Ah Jim P… shucks… Jim T. it is very beautiful what you wrote. Amateur originated fromt he word “love”. It gives me a whole new perspective on “amateur”.