competent

adjective
com·​pe·​tent | \ ˈkäm-pə-tənt \

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: such as
a : having the capacity to initiate an immune response following exposure to an antigen antibody production by immunologically competent B cells
b of a bacterial cell : capable of taking up exogenous DNA (as from a plasmid) during genetic transformation natural and artificially-produced competent cells

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from competent

competently adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for competent

Synonyms

able, capable, equal, fit, good, qualified, suitable

Antonyms

incompetent, inept, poor, unfit, unfitted, unqualified

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for competent

sufficient, enough, adequate, competent mean being what is necessary or desirable. sufficient suggests a close meeting of a need. sufficient savings enough is less exact in suggestion than sufficient. do you have enough food? adequate may imply barely meeting a requirement. the service was adequate competent suggests measuring up to all requirements without question or being adequately adapted to an end. had no competent notion of what was going on

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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

In the world of comic films, the X-Men have always been slightly more competent at making something worth watching, especially when compared to DC films. Darren Orf, Popular Mechanics, "The 2019 Sci-Fi Film Guide," 3 Jan. 2019 An Indiana man accused of raping, killing and eating parts of his ex-girlfriend’s dead body is now mentally competent to stand trial, a state psychiatrist said Thursday. Travis Fedschun, Fox News, "Indiana man accused of murdering, eating dead ex-girlfriend deemed competent for trial," 12 Aug. 2018 At the same time, no one has a huge amount of faith in any of our political leaders because the perception is that both Theresa May and [Labour party leader] Jeremy Corbyn just aren’t very competent at their jobs. Jen Kirby, Vox, "Why Brexit is tearing the United Kingdom apart," 27 Nov. 2018 The new chips also don’t make the Laptop 2 any more competent at gaming. Dan Seifert, The Verge, "Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 review: if it ain’t broke," 16 Oct. 2018 Overall, said Cunningham, of Louisville, women professors are expected to be nurturers and are not seen to be as competent as men. Alfred Lubrano, Philly.com, "After complaints, Ratemyprofessors.com does away with its 'hotness' ratings," 11 July 2018 In order to be competent for trial, a criminal defendant must understand the nature of court proceedings and be able to assist in his own defense. Tony Rizzo, kansascity, "Man found in Lenexa with wife's dismembered body is competent for trial," 3 July 2018 The tiki-taka style that Spain used to rule the world between 2008 and 2012 relies on trusting every player to be equally competent on the ball. SI.com, "Messi vs Ronaldo: The Myth of the One-Man Team & the Overwhelming Importance of Trust," 2 July 2018 Bloomberg is a highly competent technocrat who at times enjoyed broad popularity in New York City. Benjamin Hart, Daily Intelligencer, "Report: Michael Bloomberg Is, Once Again,Thinking of Running for President," 26 June 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of competent

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for competent

Middle English, suitable, from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French, from Latin competent-, competens, from present participle of competere — see compete

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about competent

Statistics for competent

Last Updated

18 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for competent

The first known use of competent was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for competent

competent

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of competent

: 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

adjective
com·​pe·​tent | \ ˈkäm-pə-tənt \

Kids Definition of competent

: capable sense 2, efficient a competent teacher

Other Words from competent

competently adverb

competent

adjective
com·​pe·​tent | \ ˈkäm-pət-ənt \

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

Keep scrolling for more

competent

adjective
com·​pe·​tent | \ ˈkäm-pə-tənt \

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 jurisdictionU.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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on competent

What made you want to look up competent? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

someone who never drinks alcohol

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three-bears-two-of-them-look-like-theyre-whispering-to-a-third-bear-who-looks-chuffed-to-be-the-center-of-attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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