AskDefine | Define experience

Dictionary Definition



1 the accumulation of knowledge or skill that results from direct participation in events or activities; "a man of experience"; "experience is the best teacher" [ant: inexperience]
2 the content of direct observation or participation in an event; "he had a religious experience"; "he recalled the experience vividly"
3 an event as apprehended; "a surprising experience"; "that painful experience certainly got our attention"


1 go or live through; "We had many trials to go through"; "he saw action in Viet Nam" [syn: undergo, see, go through]
2 have firsthand knowledge of states, situations, emotions, or sensations; "I know the feeling!"; "have you ever known hunger?"; "I have lived a kind of hell when I was a drug addict"; "The holocaust survivors have lived a nightmare"; "I lived through two divorces" [syn: know, live]
3 of mental or physical states or experiences; "get an idea"; "experience vertigo"; "get nauseous"; "undergo a strange sensation"; "The chemical undergoes a sudden change"; "The fluid undergoes shear"; "receive injuries"; "have a feeling" [syn: receive, have, get, undergo]
4 undergo an emotional sensation; "She felt resentful"; "He felt regret" [syn: feel]
5 undergo; "The stocks had a fast run-up" [syn: have]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • /ɪkˈspɪə.ri.ens/, /Ik"spI@.rI.Ens/
  • /ɪksˈpɪɹiəns/, /Iks"pIr\i@ns/


  1. Event(s) of which one is cognizant.
  2. Activity which one has performed.
  3. Collection of events and/or activities from which an individual or group may gather knowledge, opinions, and skills.

Derived terms


event(s) of which one is cognizant
activity which one has performed
  • Chinese:
    Mandarin: (jīng)
  • Danish: rutine , øvelse
  • Finnish: kokemus
  • German: Praxis, Erlebnis
  • Hungarian: gyakorlat
  • Polish: doświadczenie
  • Portuguese: experiência
  • Russian: опыт
collection of events and/or activities from which an individual or group may gather knowledge
  • Danish: erfaring
  • Finnish: kokemus
  • German: Erlebnis, Erfahrung
  • Hungarian: tapasztalat
  • Polish: doświaczenie
  • Portuguese: experiência
  • Russian: опыт


  1. : To observe certain events; undergo a certain feeling or process; or perform certain actions that may alter one or contribute to one's knowledge, opinions, or skills.

Derived terms


to observe or undergo

Extensive Definition

Experience as a general concept comprises knowledge of or skill in or observation of some thing or some event gained through involvement in or exposure to that thing or event. The history of the word experience aligns it closely with the concept of experiment.
The concept of experience generally refers to know-how or procedural knowledge, rather than propositional knowledge. Philosophers dub knowledge based on experience "empirical knowledge" or "a posteriori knowledge". The interrogation of experience also has a long tradition in continental philosophy. The German term Erfahrung, which is translated as 'experience' into English has, however, a slightly different implication, given that it is associated with the coherency of life's experiences.
A person with considerable experience in a certain field can gain a reputation as an expert.
Certain religious traditions, such as in certain types of Buddhism, Surat Shabd Yoga and mysticism) and educational paradigms with, for example, the conditioning of boot camps, stress the experimental nature of human epistemology. This stands in contrast to traditions of dogma, logic or reasoning. Activities such as tourism, extreme sports and recreational drug use also tend to stress the importance of experience.

Types of experience

The word "experience" may refer, somewhat ambiguously, both to mentally unprocessed immediately-perceived events as well as to the purported wisdom gained in subsequent reflection on those events or interpretation of them.
Most wisdom-experience accumulates over a period of time, though one can also experience (and gain general wisdom-experience from) a single specific momentary event.
One may also differentiate between physical, mental, emotional and spiritual experience(s).

Immediacy of experience

Someone able to recount an event they witnessed or took part in has "firsthand experience". Firsthand experience of the "you had to be there" variety can seem especially valuable and privileged, but it often remains potentially subject to errors in sense-perception and in personal interpretation.
Second-hand experience can offer richer resources: recorded and/or summarised from firsthand observers or experiencers or from instruments and potentially expressing multiple points of view..
Third-hand experience, based on indirect and possibly unreliable rumour or hearsay, can potentially stray perilously close to blind honouring of authority.

The Subjective Experience

A state of individual subjectivity, perception on which one creates their own state of reality; a reality that is based on one’s interaction with their environment. The subjective experience is based on one’s individual ability to process data, store and internalize it, for example: our senses collect data, which is then processed according to biological programming (genetics), neurological network relationships and other variables such as relativity etc, all of which affect our individual experience of any given situation in such a way as to render it subjective.


Role-playing games treat experience (and its acquisition) as an important and valuable commodity. See experience point.


The American author Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote an essay entitled "Experience" (published in 1844), in which he asks readers to disregard emotions that could alienate them from the divine; it provides a somewhat pessimistic representation of the Transcendentalism associated with Emerson.


The art group Monochrom organized a series of happenings that ironically take up the implications of this term: Experience the Experience

External links

experience in Arabic: خبرة
experience in Czech: Empirie
experience in Danish: Erfaring
experience in German: Erfahrung
experience in Estonian: Kogemus
experience in Spanish: Experiencia
experience in Esperanto: Sperto
experience in French: Expérience
experience in Galician: Experiencia
experience in Korean: 경험
experience in Ido: Experienco
experience in Icelandic: Reynsla
experience in Italian: Esperienza
experience in Luxembourgish: Erfarung
experience in Dutch: Ervaring
experience in Japanese: 経験
experience in Norwegian: Erfaring
experience in Polish: Doświadczenie
experience in Portuguese: Experiência (filosofia)
experience in Sicilian: Spirenzia
experience in Simple English: Experience
experience in Serbo-Croatian: Iskustvo
experience in Finnish: Kokemus
experience in Swedish: Erfarenhet
experience in Thai: ประสบการณ์
experience in Ukrainian: Досвід
experience in Yiddish: ערפארונג
experience in Chinese: 經驗

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

accept, acquaintance, adventure, affair, affect, affection, apprehend, awareness, background, be aware of, be conscious of, be exposed to, be sensible of, be subjected to, behold, blaseness, circumstance, common sense, consciousness, contact, corpus, data, datum, emotion, emotional charge, emotional shade, encounter, endure, episode, event, expertise, exposure, face, fact, facts, factual base, familiarity, feel, feel deeply, feeling, feeling tone, foreboding, go through, gut reaction, hap, happening, happenstance, have, have a sensation, hear, heartthrob, impression, incident, information, intelligence, intimacy, involvement, inwardness, judgement, ken, know, know-how, knowing, knowledge, labor under, live through, matter of fact, meet, meet up with, meet with, observation, occasion, occurrence, ordeal, participation, particular, pass through, passion, past experience, pay, perceive, percept, perception, phenomenon, practical knowledge, practice, presentiment, private knowledge, privity, profound sense, ratio cognoscendi, reaction, reality, receive, receive an impression, respond, respond to stimuli, response, response to stimuli, run up against, sagacity, sample, savoir faire, savor, savvy, seasoning, see, self-knowledge, sensation, sense, sense impression, sense perception, sensory experience, sentiment, skill, smell, sophistication, spend, stand under, suffer, survey, sustain, taste, technic, technics, technique, tempering, test, touch, trial, turn of events, undercurrent, undergo, view, wisdom, worldly wisdom
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