1 of 2


: thoroughly proficient : expert
an adept negotiator
He's adept at fixing computers.
adeptly adverb
She dealt with the changes adeptly.
adeptness noun


2 of 2


ad·​ept ˈa-ˌdept How to pronounce adept (audio) ə-ˈdept How to pronounce adept (audio)
: a highly skilled or well-trained individual : expert
an adept at chess
Choose the Right Synonym for adept

proficient, adept, skilled, skillful, expert mean having great knowledge and experience in a trade or profession.

proficient implies a thorough competence derived from training and practice.

proficient in translating foreign languages

adept implies special aptitude as well as proficiency.

adept at doing long division

skilled stresses mastery of technique.

a skilled surgeon

skillful implies individual dexterity in execution or performance.

skillful drivers

expert implies extraordinary proficiency and often connotes knowledge as well as technical skill.

expert in the evaluation of wines

Examples of adept in a Sentence

Adjective Madison, Jefferson's lifelong friend, collaborator, and political ally, was quizzical and skeptical. His mind was less capacious and less elevated than Jefferson's, but more … original, and instinctively contrary. Less learned than Jefferson, his verbal skills inferior, he was almost pedantically alert to inner complications, and so, though less adept a politician, he was more consistent. Bernard Bailyn, To Begin the World Anew, 2003
Three small figurines carved of ivory from mammoth tusks have been found in a cave in southwestern Germany, providing stronger evidence that human ancestors were already adept at figurative art more than 30,000 years ago, an archaeologist is reporting today. John Noble Wilford, New York Times, 18 Dec. 2003
The Angels exploited center-fielder Bernie Williams's weak throwing arm in the division series against the Yankees and are adept at scampering from first to third on hits to the outfield. Jack Curry, New York Times, 20 Oct. 2002
Barnum was especially adept at pulling back one curtain after another, keeping the audience in a state of panting uncertainty, perpetually postponing the revelation of what was "really" going on. Jackson Lears, New Republic, 12 Nov. 2001
He's adept in several languages. he's an adept pitcher, and the team is lucky to have him Noun Once safely back in Paris, and having attained his majority, the poet squandered his inheritance with an adept's fervor … Nicholas Delbanco, Harper's, September 2004
They recruited computational chemists, software engineers, AI experts, and various other computer adepts, all of whom put their monster minds together to create an automated reasoning system that could inspect vast amounts of chemical data quickly and point the finger at potential new drug compounds. Ed Regis, Wired, June 2000
even by the standards of Washington, he's an adept at political intrigue and power politics
Recent Examples on the Web
Humans’ endless encroachment on the natural habitat has led to an increase in encounters with the animals, omnivores especially adept at scavenging. Daniel Miller, Los Angeles Times, 26 May 2024 Clinicians are adept at discovering the unusual hiding beneath the familiar, but have human limitations. Jeffrey Millstein, STAT, 21 May 2024
Still though, the dietary differences alone aren’t sufficient to explain what makes snakes so evolutionary adept. Popular Science, 22 Feb. 2024 Arnold Schwarzenegger’s mission changes from ending the future of humanity to ensuring its survival, from killing the mother to protecting the son from an assassin adept at quicksilver. Mike Barnes, The Hollywood Reporter, 13 Dec. 2023 See all Example Sentences for adept 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'adept.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



derivative of adept entry 2


borrowed from New Latin adeptus "one who has attained a high degree of proficiency (as in alchemy or hermetic philosophy)," going back to Latin, "having attained," past participle of adipīscī "to arrive at, attain," from ad- ad- + apīscī "to seize hold of, obtain," perhaps an inchoative derivative from the base of apere "to join" — more at apt entry 1

First Known Use


1698, in the meaning defined above


1674, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of adept was in 1674

Dictionary Entries Near adept

Cite this Entry

“Adept.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
ad·​ept ˈad-ˌept How to pronounce adept (audio)
: a highly skilled or well-trained individual : expert


2 of 2 adjective
: very good at something
adeptly adverb
adeptness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on adept

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!