skill·​ful ˈskil-fəl How to pronounce skillful (audio)
: possessed of or displaying skill : expert
a skillful chef
: accomplished with skill
a skillful treatment
skillfully adverb
skillfulness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for skillful

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

Example Sentences

He is skillful at diplomacy. an artist skillful in the use of color the skillful manner in which the doctor and nurses treated the patient These issues require skillful handling.
Recent Examples on the Web The unlettered Prince has gained in life what Hamlet achieved only in death: his own story shaped on his own terms, thanks to the intervention of a skillful Horatio. Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker, 13 Jan. 2023 Jackson leads the team in assists and makes his impact on offense with his vision and skillful passing. Joe Arruda, Hartford Courant, 10 Jan. 2023 Williams’ skillful intentional affectlessness renders her characters slippery, difficult to pin down into preordained binaries of good and evil. Katie Walsh, Los Angeles Times, 4 Jan. 2023 But, in a particularly skillful literary trick, this book of misery is anything but miserable to read. Seija Rankin, The Hollywood Reporter, 24 Dec. 2022 Born in New Jersey, schooled at Penn State in the Nittany Lions heyday of Joe Paterno, Harris was a tough, skillful fullback whom the Steelers drafted with the 13th pick of the first round in 1972. Jason Gay, WSJ, 21 Dec. 2022 The speedy and skillful Mbappé solidified his claim as the young pretender to Messi’s throne, scoring a hat trick as France came so close to being the first team to go back to back since Brazil in 1962. Doha Madani, NBC News, 18 Dec. 2022 Company executives describe her as a skillful and charismatic politician who is both engaged and accessible in an administration often known for its skepticism of big business. Ana Swanson,, 26 Nov. 2022 He is regarded as one of the sport’s most skillful artists, a virtuoso with a basketball in his hands. Sopan Deb, New York Times, 11 Nov. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'skillful.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of skillful was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near skillful

Cite this Entry

“Skillful.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


skill·​ful ˈskil-fəl How to pronounce skillful (audio)
: having or showing skill
: accomplished with skill
a skillful defense
skillfully adverb
skillfulness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on skillful

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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