proficient

play
adjective pro·fi·cient \prə-ˈfi-shənt\

Definition of proficient

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

proficient

noun

proficiently

adverb

Examples of proficient in a sentence

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. Become proficient at lag putting and you may make a few. —Dave Pelz, Golf Magazine, July 1996

  4. He has become very proficient at computer programming.

  5. She is proficient in two foreign languages.

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.

Origin and Etymology of proficient

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


First Known Use: circa 1590

Synonym Discussion of 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>.

PROFICIENT Defined for English Language Learners

proficient

play
adjective pro·fi·cient \prə-ˈfi-shənt\

Definition of proficient for English Language Learners

  • : good at doing something


PROFICIENT Defined for Kids

proficient

play
adjective pro·fi·cient \prə-ˈfi-shənt\

Definition of proficient for Students

  1. :  very good at doing something <a proficient reader>

proficiently

adverb


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up proficient? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to search out and expose misconduct

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • alphabet-magnets
  • Which is the correct spelling?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ