A dilettante is currently defined as:

"a person who cultivates an area of interest, such as the arts, without real commitment or knowledge" - OED, online (2020) version

However the etymology is from the word "delight".

(I believe, but don't know, it did not always have the contemporary negative connotation, which I believe, but don't know, it has.)

I'm looking for a word that describes what a dilettante or dabbler might be dabbling in, without entailing interest. Here's an example. My skills include writing a balance sheet, professional taxes, and forensic auditing, while my ___ include astronomy and metaphysics.

Interests and hobbies imply interest, which I'm trying to avoid.

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    I'm confused by "...without entailing interest." Why would a dilettante know a little about something they are not interested in (at least superficially)? Are you asking about a poseur? Or are these subjects that the person happens to know a little bit about, perhaps because they were forced to learn it in school? If it's the latter, I'd rephrase: "...and I have some familiarity with astronomy and metaphysics."
    – Juhasz
    Dec 29, 2020 at 0:28
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    Yeah, forced to learn it in school is a good example of how you might dabble without being interested. Or you were interested in it last year, but the shine dulled. Familiarity works.
    – sameagol
    Dec 29, 2020 at 0:30
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    @sameagol You should maybe update your question (or even create a new question) because the "without entailing interest" part is getting lost. A dilettante is interested in what they're doing, just on a superficial level. It's almost the opposite of something that you were forced to study. Dec 29, 2020 at 15:41
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    @sameagol: I'm not sure why you would bother doing or even mentioning something in which you have no interest. What is your goal? Dec 29, 2020 at 15:45
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    Why would someone be dabbling in anything if they weren’t interested in it?
    – Jim
    Dec 29, 2020 at 19:52

7 Answers 7


I suggest dabblings, a word that you approach in your question, and one that fits your specification well.

dabbling noun

a superficial or intermittent interest, investigation, or experiment

“his dabblings in philosophy and art”

Merriam Webster

Among my own dabblings is an interest in English language and usage.

  • 2
    There is a parallel in writing. Readers of this site may be amused by my scribblings rather than my writing.
    – Anton
    Dec 29, 2020 at 8:40
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    I don't know if I'm sold on that M-W definition, as it seems to contradict their own example. If you dabble in English language and usage, or in philosophy and art, then your dabblings would be the products of that dabbling: The actions you take or output you create while pursuing that interest. Like this answer, for example. (Compare with "scribblings", as offered by Anton: "My scribblings" would still be things I've written, not my passing interest in writing itself.)
    – FeRD
    Dec 29, 2020 at 20:49

My professional skills include writing a balance sheet, taxes, and forensic auditing. Astronomy and metaphysics are among my amateur interests.


Dilettante is a bit of a pejorative (as you noted), so you probably don't want to invoke that.

How about avocation?

1 : a subordinate occupation pursued in addition to one's vocation especially for enjoyment : HOBBY
Source: Merriam-Webster avocation

Example: My professional expertise includes balance sheet writing, tax preparation, and forensic auditing. Among my avocational pursuits are astronomy and metaphysics.

Or maybe just: My professional expertise includes balance sheet writing, tax preparation, and forensic auditing. In my spare time I enjoy studying astronomy and metaphysics.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – tchrist
    Dec 31, 2020 at 17:29

What a dilettante does is their "pastime". ("an activity that someone does regularly for enjoyment rather than work; a hobby" -- from Oxford Languages)

I don't know of a single word for what you're actually requesting, though. Usually it would be a phrase or implied...perhaps in an "About the Author" (or artist, or developer, etc.) page. "She earned her degree in financial accounting at Made Up University; but has happily not used this skill at all as a writer of technical manuals."


A diversion can be ‘A hobby; an activity that distracts the mind.’ (Wiktionary)

(As @sameagol mentioned, the related French word ‘divertissement’, meaning an entertaining diversion, is also used in English, though I think very rarely.)


I've heard of "enthusiasm" being used (by the dilettante's long-suffering wife) in this context.

Reference in response to an "improve this post" notice: Liverpool Daily Post, circa 1973, writing on a local man who dressed as a samurai and made paper flowers.

  • This site encourages users to do some research for their answers. You can give links of sites or dictionaries where you actually found the information of giving. A simple memory is not enough for your answer to be convincing.
    – fev
    Dec 30, 2020 at 10:16

I suggest hobbyhorse

a. A favorite hobby.

b. A topic that one frequently brings up or dwells on; a fixation.


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