I am looking for a couple of nouns that describe someone who is noticably improving at some learning activity. If someone is just starting they are a novice or a beginner; at the end, there are various words (expert, master, etc.). I am looking for words for someone who is a beginner, but who is markedly getting better, and for someone who is not an expert but is approaching it. I already thought of improver. It doesn't seem very satisfactory; neither does trainee, which doesn't imply improvement.

  • 1
    The U3A French group my wife and I attend is called the 'improvers' group'. Aug 6, 2017 at 12:39
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    In the old guild system, to be intermediate between novice (apprentice) and master was to be a journeyman. Unfortunately, its etymology makes the term suggestive of the mere hireling as distinct from the assiduous pursuer of greater competence. Aug 6, 2017 at 15:21
  • Perhaps a title like 'Nouns to describe skill level' would be more appropriate for this question.
    – kettlecrab
    Aug 6, 2017 at 18:03
  • I proposed the name "The Learning Curves" for a women's Real Tennis team I was on, but it didn't catch on.
    – ab2
    Aug 6, 2017 at 20:42

4 Answers 4


For the not beginner, not expert, you could use 'intermediate'.

You can get inspiration from this list


Somebody who picks up a skill very quickly is sometimes called a natural.

A person regarded as having an innate gift or talent for a particular task or activity.

For a person who knows the ropes, try adept.

A person who is skilled or proficient at something.

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    Both definitions are from Google using the "define:" syntax, which lets you type define: followed by a word or phrase.
    – kettlecrab
    Aug 6, 2017 at 18:20

I've heard the term "student" used in this context. One might say, "XXX is a student of modern dance." or something similar.


The Dreyfus model of skill acquisition might be a useful scale.

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