pro·​fi·​cien·​cy | \prə-ˈfi-shən(t)-sē \

Definition of proficiency 

1 : advancement in knowledge or skill : progress

2 : the quality or state of being proficient

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Synonyms & Antonyms for proficiency


chops, experience, expertise, know-how, moxie, savvy, skills



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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

The lawsuit documented the low reading and math proficiency rates of Detroit students, as well as classes without teachers and outdated or insufficient classroom materials. Ann Zaniewski, Detroit Free Press, "Judge dismisses lawsuit against Snyder over Detroit kids' literacy," 29 June 2018 In Indianapolis, only 1 in 4 students passed the state proficiency test last year. Cori Petersen, WSJ, "This Building Is for Sale (but Not to a Charter School)," 9 Nov. 2018 Johnson’s proficiency was all the more remarkable considering the miserable weather that dogged the first 90 minutes of his round. Bill Pennington, New York Times, "Dustin Johnson Pulls Away in Round 2 of the U.S. Open," 15 June 2018 If anything, English proficiency among non-native speakers is increasing. Christopher Ingraham,, "Millions of U.S. citizens don't speak English to each other, continuing decades-long rise," 21 May 2018 In eighth-grade math, where scores were lowest, proficiency was slightly under 50 percent for North Carolina's white and nonpoor students. Ann Doss Helms, charlotteobserver, "NC has spent more than $150 million to boost reading. Are these scores worth it? | Charlotte Observer," 10 Apr. 2018 Today, more than ever before, adequate math and science proficiency is a prerequisite for a nation to attain high-income status and the gains in health and well-being that go along with it. Washington Post, "Africa’s scientists encouraged to become the next Einstein," 7 Apr. 2018 Those grades are calculated using a formula of 80 percent proficiency and 20 percent growth — which means that standardized test scores are essentially the sole measure. Valerie Strauss, Washington Post, "N.C. teacher: Test score says the year was a dismal failure for my student — but it really was ‘a resounding success’," 8 June 2018 Gabriel diligently conducts duties, willingly shares her vast knowledge, extensive proficiency and zeal with her personnel. Brandon Patterson, Detroit Free Press, "How these 20 women are protecting Detroiters every day," 23 May 2018

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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Last Updated

4 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for proficiency

The first known use of proficiency was in 1544

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