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

Leslie was hard working and proficient in her professional career., "Leslie Andrea Parker," 14 June 2018 This lack of clarity over Conte's position has meant that Chelsea, who are normally very proficient in the transfer market, have made no signings so far ahead of the 2018/19 Premier League season, which starts in five weeks time., "PSG Eye £100m Bid for Chelsea Midfielder as Blues Scout Ligue 1 Stars as Possible Replacements," 6 July 2018 In the 2015-2016 school year 10 percent of Dennison’s reading students passed the Scholastic Reading Inventory and the piloted PARCC assessments at the proficient or advanced reading level, according to the LMC release. Staff Report, The Aegis, "Havre de Grace Elementary teacher Dennison receives prestigious fellowship," 22 June 2018 Fifty-nine percent of 10th-graders scored proficient or better on the ELA section. Kevin Richert, idahostatesman, "Idaho's spring standardized test scores improved. But the SAT had lackluster numbers.," 20 June 2018 Beyoncé has long been a proficient, if also reluctant, rapper. Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, "Do Beyoncé Fans Have to Forgive Jay-Z?," 18 June 2018 Important parts of his vision are emerging, such as: Emphasizing core skills Overall, only about 20% of MPS students score as proficient or better in reading, and fewer than 20% reach that score in math. Alan J. Borsuk, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Ambitious? Check. Optimistic? Check. Now, will Keith Posley's plan for MPS work?," 15 June 2018 According to the data, the percentage of elementary students scoring proficient or above in reading increased slightly, while math scores dipped. Darcy Costello, The Courier-Journal, "JCPS takeover: Here's what happened in two other Kentucky districts," 8 May 2018 Schantz said the incident happened in calm weather and raises questions about whether the incoming crews need more time to become proficient on the new tugs. Alex Demarban, Anchorage Daily News, "New tug and crew dents oil tanker, prompting reviews as Edison Chouest takes reins in Prince William Sound," 29 June 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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Last Updated

12 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

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).


occurring twice a year or every two years

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