I'm looking for a term for a person who is a newcomer by definition, but has already had some knowledge in the field. Say this one are going to a lab in a field they didn't study before, so of course they are far more behind in both knowledge and experience to anyone in the lab. However, they have read a lot of Wikipedia articles in the related field, and has caught basic foundations, enough for them to ask not too novice questions.

What is the word for this person?

  • Journeyman. Well-informed. Well-read. Pre-informed. Done their homework. Or really a hundred others. You can't think of anything, at all? – RegDwigнt Oct 14 '15 at 14:47
  • @RegDwigнt yes? – Ooker Oct 14 '15 at 14:58
  • Yes what? Or do you mean no? And either way, why is the answer a question? – RegDwigнt Oct 14 '15 at 15:00
  • I mean I can't think about any word you introduce. It is in a question form because I don't know how to react to this, and if I speak to you directly, I need to raise my voice at the end to let you know. The word is pronounce longer and waver. yyyyessss? – Ooker Oct 14 '15 at 15:05

I've always been a fan of the word 'tyro':

a ​person who is new to an ​activity: I ​look ​forward to ​seeing this ​young tyro's next ​ballet. (-- Cambridge Dictionaries Online)

It's probably only my imagination, but to me there's something enthusiastic about the word. That makes it fit a case where someone's taken the trouble to do prior research.

  • if it has some enthusiastic in the word, then this is great. However, can I use this word in a formal paper? – Ooker Oct 14 '15 at 15:00
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    To be honest, I'm not sure. I don't think it's widely used (outside the arts pages of newspapers), which makes me think it may not be widely understood. There's nothing 'slang' or 'informal' about it, but sadly it may be safer to find an alternative. – JHCL Oct 14 '15 at 15:16

Perhaps false beginner

someone who starts to study a domain (mainly a foreign language) from the starting level, although they already have a slight knowledge of it.

The noun initiate may fit, but it needs some context to avoid confusion.

  • With context, initiate is probably the most fitting of the answers so far. – Eric Hauenstein Oct 14 '15 at 15:31
  • @EricHauenstein there is only one definition for the noun. If I use it as a noun, can it be clear? – Ooker Oct 14 '15 at 16:23
  • In this example "He is an initiate which knew the law and advised the king untiringly and patiently", initiate doesn't mean beginner or false beginner but is used as a synonym of real initiate, i.e. well-informed person, expert. – Graffito Oct 14 '15 at 17:22

An autodidact is a self-taught person, according to Google definition.

For me, it connotes that the person in question has knowledge, but not necessarily the full breadth of knowledge of one who has formally studied the topic or has actual experience in it.

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    An autodidact doesn't have to be a newbie. These things are completely orthogonal. Da Vinci was an autodidact in a thousand disciplines, yet his knowledge and skill far surpassed those of many a formal student. Not to mention that a fair share of the topics he himself invented, so there was no way he could have formally studied them in the first place. – RegDwigнt Oct 14 '15 at 15:05

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