adjective pro·fi·cient \ prə-ˈfi-shənt \
|Updated on: 4 Jul 2018
: well advanced in an art, occupation, or branch of knowledge





proficient was our Word of the Day on 06/04/2018. Hear the podcast!

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 GladwellNew Yorker15 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 BegleyWall Street Journal11 Oct. 2002
  3. Become proficient at lag putting and you may make a few. —Dave PelzGolf MagazineJuly 1996
  4. He has become very proficient at computer programming.

  5. She is proficient in two foreign languages.

Recent Examples of proficient from the Web

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.

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

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


  • : good at doing something

PROFICIENT Defined for Kids


adjective pro·fi·cient \ prə-ˈfi-shənt \
: very good at doing something
  • a proficient reader



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