A layman might have a small amount of knowledge about something, but she isn't officially trained in the subject. If you need brain surgery, don't consult a layman; stick to a professional brain surgeon.

Use the noun layman to describe your brother, who is an amateur bird watcher rather than a professional ornithologist. The word layman is most often used to contrast with expert or professional. Another way to use it is to distinguish between a member of the clergy — a priest or minister, for example — and an ordinary church member, or layman.

Definitions of layman

n someone who is not a clergyman or a professional person

layperson, secular
clergyman, man of the cloth, reverend
a member of the clergy and a spiritual leader of the Christian Church
lay reader
a layman who is authorized by the bishop to read parts of the service in an Anglican or Episcopal church
Type of:
common man, common person, commoner
a person who holds no title

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