competent

adjective com·pe·tent \ ˈkäm-pə-tənt \
Updated on: 17 Nov 2017

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

competently

adverb

Examples of competent in a Sentence

  1. … he was tolerated, if not endorsed as the competent painter he was. —Markus ZusakThe Book Thief2005
  2. 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 LipkinScience News3 Sept. 1994
  3. "Resort cities're transient places," the detective argued. " … That doesn't mean the police aren't competent." —Joseph WambaughThe Secrets of Harry Bright1985
  4. … I discovered that Lieutenant Lincoln—a much-admired man hereabouts, and, I imagine, an exceedingly competent physician—was from Worcester … —Alexander Woollcottletter2 Oct. 1917
  5. The defendant was declared competent to stand trial.

  6. any competent mechanic should be able to fix that

Recent Examples of competent from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of competent

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

Synonym Discussion of 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

COMPETENT Defined for English Language Learners

competent

adjective

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

competent

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

Definition of competent for Students

:capable 2, efficient
  • a competent teacher

competently

adverb

Medical Dictionary

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

Law Dictionary

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
2 a :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


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