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 Previously, about 40% of kids were not proficient in reading and writing. Courtney Tanner, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Grades start to improve in Salt Lake City School District. But don’t expect pre-pandemic scores.," 3 May 2021 About 4 in 5 residents in the area are people of color and nearly 2 in 5 are not proficient in English, according to an analysis of 911 calls and U.S. census data by the news organizations. NBC News, "Texas enabled the worst carbon monoxide poisoning catastrophe in recent U.S. history," 29 Apr. 2021 Darrisaw was a three-year starter at left tackle who is proficient in the run game. Omar Kelly, sun-sentinel.com, "Kelly: A look at the 2021 NFL draft’s top-25 talents | Analysis," 24 Apr. 2021 That’s not to suggest that anyone need rush to see this proficient, disposable, ultra-gory reboot on the big screen, especially since it’s being made available simultaneously on HBO Max. Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times, "Review: It doesn’t skimp on gore, but the new ‘Mortal Kombat’ movie is no flawless victory," 22 Apr. 2021 The journey from novice to proficient, even in small activities, gives you the feeling of pushing yourself and moving from distress to comfort. Kumar Mehta, Forbes, "Three Easy Ways To Work Hard," 20 Apr. 2021 Yet, paradoxically, the North Korean government has produced some of the world’s most proficient hackers. Robert Hackett, Fortune, "Mars helicopter: NASA’s little engine that could," 20 Apr. 2021 Yet, paradoxically, the North Korean government has produced some of the world’s most proficient hackers. Ed Caesar, The New Yorker, "The Incredible Rise of North Korea’s Hacking Army," 19 Apr. 2021 Many of the new companies are led by founders proficient in e-commerce, but with less experience in consumer health. Katie Deighton, WSJ, "Startups Offer New Pregnancy Tests With Privacy and Calm in Mind," 14 Apr. 2021

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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Time Traveler for proficient

Time Traveler

The first known use of proficient was circa 1590

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Statistics for proficient

Last Updated

9 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Proficient.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/proficient. Accessed 18 May. 2021.

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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

Comments on proficient

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