com·​pe·​ten·​cy | \ ˈkäm-pə-tən(t)-sē How to pronounce competency (audio) \
plural competencies

Definition of competency

1 : competence: such as
a : possession of sufficient knowledge or skill Dr. Polidoro was cited for his outstanding contributions to the profession, his professional … competency … and dedication.Rhode Island At length horrible doubts overtake him as to the captain's competency to navigate his ship.— Herman Melville
b : legal authority, ability, or admissibility They evaluated the defendant's competency to stand trial.
2 : a specific area of competence A "meister," or master, who works with the student at the jobsite will then be able to check off when an apprentice has achieved certain competencies.— Lynn Olson I have always believed businesses that concentrate on a very few core competencies will do the best.— Bill Gates When coming up with a list of different industries, positions, and professions to which your skills could transfer, the key is to think in terms of your core competencies.— John A. Challenger

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Examples of competency in a Sentence

Critics have questioned the director's competency. she's proved that she has the competency to run a major company
Recent Examples on the Web Jaffee’s lawyer, Gregg Baron, said his client was homeless and had been kept in jail on two misdemeanor charges while authorities prepared to evaluate his mental competency. Washington Post, "Inmate found dead at D.C. jail," 30 Apr. 2021 But online court records indicate Hole never made a court appearance to prove his competency following his March 2020 incident. Lawrence Andrea, USA TODAY, "FedEx shooting: Who were the Indianapolis victims, suspect? Why didn't state 'red flag' law stop attack? What we know.," 19 Apr. 2021 Hawkins said the group works with teachers and administrators to raise their cultural competency, via coaching and professional development. Steve Smith,, "Farmington holds conversation on ‘Unequal Treatment’," 9 Apr. 2021 His case moved slowly as hearings were delayed and his competency was questioned. Kristina Davis, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Sovereign citizen duo accused of filing fake liens against judges, federal officials," 1 Apr. 2021 If a court determines that a child needs a competency evaluation, then there are stipulations, such as the evaluation has to be completed by a psychiatrist or other qualified professional. Alexandra Kukulka,, "Juvenile justice bill heads to Gov. Eric Holcomb’s desk," 14 Apr. 2021 New Jersey is just the latest state to pass legislation requiring or recommending that schools teach ethnic studies such as Black and Latinos studies, or cultural competency and equity classes. Sahar Akbarzai, CNN, "New Jersey is the latest state to require schools to offer courses on diversity and unconscious bias," 11 Apr. 2021 Two doctors submitted the results of that evaluation to the court in August, and during a September competency hearing it was determined that Gray was incompetent to stand trial. Justin L. Mack, The Indianapolis Star, "'Truth must be told': Family demands answers after Speedway police kill schizophrenic man," 25 Mar. 2021 The judge scheduled a competency hearing for 9 a.m. April 26 to examine the result of psychiatric evaluations. Cameron Knight, The Enquirer, "Middletown mother's competency, sanity to be evaluated after the killing of her son," 22 Mar. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'competency.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of competency

1600, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for competency

see competent

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Time Traveler for competency

Time Traveler

The first known use of competency was in 1600

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Statistics for competency

Last Updated

3 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Competency.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for competency



English Language Learners Definition of competency

formal : an ability or skill


com·​pe·​ten·​cy | \ -ən-sē How to pronounce competency (audio) \
plural competencies

Medical Definition of competency


com·​pe·​ten·​cy | \ ˈkäm-pə-tən-sē How to pronounce competency (audio) \

Legal Definition of competency

1 : the quality or state of being mentally competent — compare capacity, incompetence, insanity
2 : the quality or state of being legally qualified or adequate the competency, quantum and legal effect of evidenceState v. Scoggin, 72 S.E.2d 54 (1952)

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