proficient

adjective
pro·​fi·​cient | \ prə-ˈfi-shənt How to pronounce proficient (audio) \

Definition of proficient

: well advanced in an art, occupation, or branch of knowledge

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Other Words from proficient

proficient noun
proficiently adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for proficient

proficient, adept, skilled, skillful, expert mean having great knowledge and experience in a trade or profession. proficient implies a thorough competence derived from training and practice. proficient in translating foreign languages adept implies special aptitude as well as proficiency. adept at doing long division skilled stresses mastery of technique. a skilled surgeon skillful implies individual dexterity in execution or performance. skillful drivers expert implies extraordinary proficiency and often connotes knowledge as well as technical skill. expert in the evaluation of wines

Comparing Efficient, Effective, and Proficient

These three words cover some overlapping territory.

Efficient most often describes what is capable of producing desired results without wasting materials, time, or energy. While the word can be applied to both people and things, it is far more commonly applied to things, such as machines, systems, processes, and organizations. The focus of the word is on how little is wasted or lost while the desired results are produced.

Effective typically describes things—such as policies, treatments, arguments, and techniques—that do what they are intended to do. People can also be described as effective when they accomplish what they set out to accomplish, but the word is far more often applied to things.

Proficient typically describes people, and it often is followed by the preposition at. If you are proficient at something, you are very good at it. You are, in fact, so good at doing it that you are unusually efficient when you do it. One can also be proficient in something, such as a language.

Examples of proficient in a Sentence

With this system, a large pool of teachers are asked to identify students they believe are proficient in a given subject; those students are then tested, and their grades stand as the proficiency range. — Malcolm Gladwell, New Yorker, 15 Sept. 2003 Dr. Pascual-Leone recruited 15 proficient Braille readers and wired them up so he could measure their somatosensory cortex—the part of the brain that registers and processes the sense of touch. — Sharon Begley, Wall Street Journal, 11 Oct. 2002 Become proficient at lag putting and you may make a few. — Dave Pelz, Golf Magazine, July 1996 He has become very proficient at computer programming. She is proficient in two foreign languages.
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Recent Examples on the Web

So the state has a goal to reduce by half the number of students who are not graduating from high school or scoring proficient on state tests. Arika Herron, Indianapolis Star, "Former U.S. Secretary of Education John King on what Indianapolis gets right about education," 4 June 2019 On that night, LeBron brushed off even the most proficient coverage. Rob Mahoney, SI.com, "Stephen Curry's Shooting Bucks Conventional Math, Breaks Cavs' Resolve in Game 2," 4 June 2018 On the other side, Kuni — the most proficient player — could choose to beat on her drum. Quanta Magazine, "The Beasts That Keep the Beat," 22 Mar. 2016 Again, nothing fancy here: Sony just put its head down and made a product that is technically proficient and presents immediately obvious benefits to consumers. Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica, "Our favorite (and least favorite) tech of 2018," 26 Dec. 2018 That would seem to be a problem, because as the NBA has embraced the small-ball era, James's playmaking abilities have been best complemented by teammates proficient at shooting from beyond the arc. Des Bieler, chicagotribune.com, "Is LeBron James aware the Lakers added Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson and JaVale McGee?," 3 July 2018 Golf officials worry that the easy availability of so much detail has contributed to slow play and nullified the advantages of those who are more proficient at reading greens and who put more effort into learning courses. Karen Crouse, New York Times, "At the Masters, Low-Tech Data Still Rules," 7 Apr. 2018 Buttigieg is a proficient musician, playing guitar and piano and, in 2013, performing with the South Bend Symphony Orchestra as a guest piano soloist. Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, "Who Is Pete Buttigeig, the Gay Millennial Mayor the Democrats Didn't See Coming?," 1 Apr. 2019 Durant has proven to be one of the best defenders in the league, but Holiday's crafty handle and ability to finish with both hands makes him proficient enough to score against defenders with a size advantage over him. William Guillory, NOLA.com, "Jrue Holiday refusing to back down from matchup against Kevin Durant," 4 May 2018

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

circa 1590, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for proficient

Latin proficient-, proficiens, present participle of proficere to go forward, accomplish, from pro- forward + facere to make — more at pro-, do

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Statistics for proficient

Last Updated

20 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for proficient

The first known use of proficient was circa 1590

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More Definitions for proficient

proficient

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of proficient

: good at doing something

proficient

adjective
pro·​fi·​cient | \ prə-ˈfi-shənt How to pronounce proficient (audio) \

Kids Definition of proficient

: very good at doing something a proficient reader

Other Words from proficient

proficiently adverb

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Comments on proficient

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