From ArticleWorld

The word Amateur has two meanings. The most common one refers to an individual that performs a task without being paid, being in opposition with the professional that is paid for the same task. Because of this assessment the labeling of someone as amateur can have a negative impact, especially in sports. An athlete that is considered an amateur is acknowledged to be inferior to the professional. This comes in opposition with previous times, especially when regarding to the Olympic Games. In the past, if an athlete was a professional (received money from sporting activities) he would be disqualified from the competition. Only amateurs were allowed to take part in the games. Nowadays this ruling is no longer valid and most athletes that compete are professionals. The only Olympic sport that still uses older rules concerning the amateur-professional participating rule is “boxing”.

The second usage of the term derives from a French form of the word’s Latin root, meaning “lover of”. To this extent, the term amateur gains the meaning of an individual that can be as good as a paid professional but is driven in the action by a love of or passion. Examples that can be given of such amateurs include the connoisseur and in the 17th and 18th centuries several virtuosos can also be given the tag amateur. Actors can also be considered amateurs even if they are as good as other professionals because of financial reasons.