Definition of competent
1 : proper or rightly pertinent
2 : having requisite or adequate ability or qualities : fit a competent teacher a competent piece of work
3 : legally qualified or adequate a competent witness
4 : having the capacity to function or develop in a particular way; specifically : having the capacity to respond (as by producing an antibody) to an antigenic determinant immunologically competent cells
Examples of competent in a Sentence
… he was tolerated, if not endorsed as the competent painter he was. —Markus Zusak, The Book Thief, 2005
The crafting of fine violins has proceeded for centuries as a secret art, handed down through apprenticeships from generation to generation. It takes 8 years, at least, to train a competent craftsman, decades to hone a master. —Richard Lipkin, Science News, 3 Sept. 1994
“Resort cities're transient places,” the detective argued. “ … That doesn't mean the police aren't competent.” —Joseph Wambaugh, The Secrets of Harry Bright, 1985
… I discovered that Lieutenant Lincoln—a much-admired man hereabouts, and, I imagine, an exceedingly competent physician—was from Worcester … —Alexander Woollcott, letter, 2 Oct. 1917
The defendant was declared competent to stand trial.
any competent mechanic should be able to fix that
Recent Examples of competent from the Web
As in other walks of life, to be competent at foreign policy does not mean being 100 percent right or successful.
Frieden, however, emphasized his concern for the agency no matter how competent or devoted the new director.
And Kristen Schall’s ambitious reporter fumbles between competent and comical.
The commission submits a report to the IOC executive board which is the competent body to propose a candidature to the session.
Even shortlisted women with impressive CVs may still be assumed to be less competent, are challenged, sometimes excessively, and therefore have less time to present a coherent and compelling talk.
For them, the relevant issue is how to find a competent adviser who offers value and understanding.
The second most pressing issue was finding competent staff.
Do these nuns come across as competent, professional women who have dedicated their lives to serving others?
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'competent.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Synonym Discussion of competent
COMPETENT Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of competent for English Language Learners
: having the necessary ability or skills : able to do something well or well enough to meet a standard
law : able to take part in a trial
COMPETENT Defined for Kids
Medical Definition of competent
: having the capacity to function or develop in a particular way; specifically : having the capacity to respond (as by producing an antibody) to an antigenic determinant immunologically competent cells
Legal Definition of competent
1 : having or showing requisite or adequate ability or qualities a competent lawyer competent representation by counsel
2a : free from addiction or mental defect that renders one incapable of taking care of oneself or one's property b : capable of understanding one's position as a criminal defendant and the nature of the criminal proceedings and able to participate in one's defense — compare capacity, incompetent, insanity
3 : legally qualified or adequate: as a : having the necessary power or authority a judge of competent jurisdiction — U.S. Code b : qualified for presentation in court : admissible as evidence or capable of giving admissible evidence a competent witness c : intelligent a competent waiver
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up competent? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).