English : Greenhorn

What is the meaning and origin of the expression greenhorn?

By Mrs. Louise, London, UK – 5th May-2007.

A greenhorn is an inexperienced or naive person, someone who can be easily duped or cheated. The term, I understand, was first used in the 15th century to refer to a young ox whose horns had not matured. Around the 17th century, the word began to be used to refer to people. Any inexperienced person began to be called a greenhorn. In the early part of the 20th century, with the influx of immigrants, the word began to be used to refer to them. Now a day of course, a greenhorn is any inexperienced person.

Here are a few examples.

• The Management is not planning on hiring greenhorns.

• How could you give such an important assignment to a greenhorn?

• The old man was looking for a greenhorn whom he could sell his bogus stocks to.

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