As someone with a lot of hobbies, I was surprised that I never thought to look up the etymology of the word amateur until now, but was quite satisfied with what I found. It was borrowed in 1784 from French, where it meant "one who loves" (the definition just shifted to "one who loves a hobby" in English). That traces to Latin amator, with the same meaning, and the verb amare, "to love". Amare is recognizable in a bunch of words, including amorous, amity, enamor, and paramour. It comes from the Proto-Italic root ama, which meant "to take", and Proto-Indo-European hemh, "to seize" (it seems that the idea was that love "takes hold" of you). According to Google NGram Viewer, usage of the word amateur peaked in 1937, and, according to Google Trends, search interest is highest in Kentucky for some reason.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a junior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.