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 But for students who are good at memorization and less proficient in long-form tests, this version of AP exams will likely not fall in their favor. Jill Tucker, SFChronicle.com, "Students to take Advanced Placement tests online at home, with mixed feelings," 10 May 2020 Alaska Juneau: Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy is working with Senate Democratic leader Tom Begich on legislation aimed at ensuring students are proficient in reading by third grade. USA TODAY, "Condom conflict, ghost net, smart trash bins: News from around our 50 states," 18 Jan. 2020 Warren Buffett clearly is proficient at distinguishing between hindsight and foresight. Meir Statman, WSJ, "The Mental Mistakes That Active Investors Make," 10 Feb. 2020 William worked the ranch on the Nueces River near San Antonio for two years, apparently becoming a proficient broncobuster while also learning Spanish and memorizing the dictionary. Patrick Sauer, Smithsonian Magazine, "The History of O. Henry’s ‘The Gift of the Magi’," 24 Dec. 2019 According to the new research, more than three out of four CPS students who started kindergarten as English learners were proficient by fifth grade, but few reached proficiency in upper grades. Hannah Leone, chicagotribune.com, "CPS students learning English have academic successes on par with peers, new ‘milestone’ study says," 3 Dec. 2019 The Raiders are extremely proficient at losing at Arrowhead. Ann Killion, SFChronicle.com, "Gruden’s Raiders discombobulated, undisciplined and humiliated in K.C.," 1 Dec. 2019 The translation is then vetted by a faculty physician who is a native speaker or is proficient [in that language]. Shafaq Zia, STAT, "New effort aims to provide Covid-19 resources to non-English speakers in U.S.," 1 Apr. 2020 The results showed: 61% of white students were proficient. Adrienne Dunn, azcentral, "Gov. Doug Ducey's claim about Arizona students' test scores misses the mark," 16 Feb. 2020

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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Last Updated

22 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Proficient.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/proficient. Accessed 4 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for proficient

proficient

adjective
How to pronounce proficient (audio)

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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