pro·​fi·​cient | \prə-ˈfi-shənt \

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

Additional training and dedication to the hip arthroscopy surgical techniques have allowed him to become proficient in treating femoral acetabular impingement (cam and pincer impingement) and labral tears of the hip. Orthocincy,, "About us: Dr. Kevin J. Shaw," 19 June 2018 Aquila, who is the vice-president of the North Shore Louisiana Deaf Coalition, is not fully proficient in English which is completely distinct from American Sign language. Maria Clark,, "Deaf Slidell resident sues local nursing home over inadequate interpreter service," 6 June 2018 Additionally, Henry became proficient in filming on a GoPro camera to achieve the personal requirement for the medal. Courant Community, "Community News For The Glastonbury Edition," 8 May 2018 Henry, a second-round pick out of Arkansas in 2016, established himself as one of the NFL’s emerging tight ends in his first two seasons, proficient in both receiving and blocking. Mike Digiovanna,, "With Henry out, Chargers plan to look at all tight end options, including Antonio Gates," 23 May 2018 While O'Rourke is fluent in the language, Cruz is not known as a proficient speaker. Patrick Svitek, star-telegram, "Beto O'Rourke wants to debate Ted Cruz 6 times, including twice in Spanish | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 4 May 2018 Edwards spent weeks consulting with Swahili-proficient colleagues and putting Pepper through many trials with phonetic spelling. Kate Keller, Smithsonian, "The Smithsonian Is Using a Swahili-Speaking Robot to Break Down Language Barriers," 27 Apr. 2018 In addition to his extensive career in the funeral industry, Doug was also a proficient real estate developer who had a keen eye for investment, as well as a founding board member of Landmark Bank in Ft., "Deaths in South Florida: 4/25," 25 Apr. 2018 But that’s a temporary measure—Marble wants to make these things proficient enough to find their own way around the people and the buskers and the intersections. Matt Simon, WIRED, "Delivery Bots Have Awkward Sidewalk Interactions, Too," 24 Apr. 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

10 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for proficient

The first known use of proficient was circa 1590

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More Definitions for proficient



English Language Learners Definition of proficient

: good at doing something


pro·​fi·​cient | \prə-ˈfi-shənt \

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

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


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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