pro·​fi·​cien·​cy | \ prə-ˈfi-shən(t)-sē How to pronounce proficiency (audio) \

Definition of proficiency

1 : advancement in knowledge or skill : progress
2 : the quality or state of being proficient

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Synonyms for proficiency


command, IQ, mastership, mastery

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Examples of proficiency in a Sentence

surprised by his proficiency at the game after only the briefest explanation of the rules acquired proficiency at golf through long hours of practice

Recent Examples on the Web

New York City is now inching closer to the modest milestone of half its students demonstrating proficiency in math and English. Eliza Shapiro, New York Times, "City School Test Scores Inch Up, but Less Than Half of Students Pass," 22 Aug. 2019 The largest overall increases, according to the district, occurred at Eustis Heights Elementary, where fifth-grade proficiency in language arts increased from 35% to 51%. Jerry Fallstrom,, "Lake County schools tout improvements in standardized test scores," 1 July 2019 Test score data released last year showed that only 19 percent of black boys in third grade met state standards for full proficiency in reading., "Michelle DePass, a product of Portland Public Schools, wants the district to bolster black success," 27 June 2019 The younger brother of Devils forward prospect Michael McLeod, Ryan is lauded for his speed, passing and proficiency in the face-off circle. Richard Morin, azcentral, "Final NHL mock draft: Major changes in top 10; Coyotes could land Brady Tkachuk," 20 June 2018 In each subject area, less than one-third of Newport High students attained proficiency, according to Kentucky Department of Education data. Max Londberg,, "Newport superintendent claims critical audit of his district defamed him, cost him speaking gigs," 23 Aug. 2019 Until the early 1970s, elementary school children across Japan were taught proficiency on the soroban, which was adapted from versions brought from China in the 15th century. New York Times, "The Right Answer? 8,186,699,633,530,061 (An Abacus Makes It Look Almost Easy)," 21 Aug. 2019 Xu is a founder of New Oriental, the largest language-school chain in China, which, since 1993, has prepared students to take the IELTS and TOEFL tests in English proficiency—the first step toward studying abroad. Han Zhang, The New Yorker, "The “Post-Truth” Publication Where Chinese Students in America Get Their News," 19 Aug. 2019 District officials and school board members said the immediate priority was boosting math and reading proficiency for those traditionally underserved student groups., "Portland Public Schools wants to drastically boost black, Latino and migrant student achievement by 2022," 15 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'proficiency.' 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 proficiency

1544, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for proficiency

Last Updated

11 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for proficiency

The first known use of proficiency was in 1544

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Comments on proficiency

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miscellaneous remnants or debris

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