Definition of competence in US English:


(also competency)


  • 1The ability to do something successfully or efficiently.

    ‘the players displayed varying degrees of competence’
    • ‘Increasing job seekers' competence in basic skills and unskilled labor may have positive results for transitioning welfare recipients into the workforce.’
    • ‘A similar pattern of results was found across the measurement domains of child behavior, parenting skills and competence, and relationship adjustment.’
    • ‘Although it took time for their concerns to be heard, they consistently voiced their concerns about the surgeon's competence and skill level.’
    • ‘In our experience, the competence and skills of traditional birth attendants may vary widely across settings.’
    • ‘She had many friends and related openly and well to me, implying skills in social competence.’
    • ‘Some employees are enthusiastic about their supervisor's competence and skills.’
    • ‘It is hardly surprising that faculty members have taken to heart offensive comments about their professional competence, teaching skills, or personal lives.’
    • ‘Their demonstrated skills and competence are envied by other servicemembers.’
    • ‘The learners must demonstrate competence in all technical skills by performing the tasks.’
    • ‘A further controversial point was the competence and skill available to the different types of audit organizations.’
    • ‘Knowledge, awareness and sensitivity become important elements in developing the skills of cultural competence.’
    capability, ability, competency, capacity, proficiency, accomplishment, adeptness, adroitness, knowledge, expertise, expertness, skill, skilfulness, prowess, mastery, resources, faculties, facilities, talent, bent, aptitude, artistry, virtuosity
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    1. 1.1 The legal authority of a court or other body to deal with a particular matter.
      ‘the court's competence has been accepted’
      • ‘But the courts have no competence to nullify, repeal or amend the legislation in question.’
      • ‘A court's competence to grant an anti-suit injunction seems to derive from its jurisdiction to adjudicate.’
      • ‘He began by trying to identify the pith and substance of the Safe Streets Act in order to determine if, at least facially, it dealt with matters within provincial legislative competence.’
      • ‘The legislation containing a ban will be on public health grounds, a policy area within the competence of the Scottish parliament.’
      • ‘Reports are also filed by specialized agencies with competence in relevant matters.’
      • ‘I refer, also, to the powers of general competence of local authorities.’
      • ‘However, whether a court with competence should actually vary a foreign trust raises a question governed by the applicable law of the trust.’
      • ‘Appeal to a Court whose competence is extra-European does not contribute to the progressive formation of European unity.’
      • ‘Recently, some of the first cases involving a breach by Member States in the sphere of the Community's external competence reached the Court.’
      • ‘The Assembly is given competence to exercise legislative authority in respect of those matters falling under the responsibility of the six Northern Ireland Government Departments.’
      • ‘They were concerned more with the manner in which the court should exercise its jurisdiction than with its competence to entertain the motion before it.’
      • ‘Finally, a ‘Sea-bed Disputes Chamber’ of the Law of the Sea Tribunal has competence over disputes concerning seabed operations and the ISBA.’
      • ‘There is no doubt that the court, not the arbitral tribunal, has the competence to determine the court's own jurisdiction in respect of the action that is brought before it.’
      • ‘In every case when establishing the territorial competence of any given Italian Court, there is implied acceptance of the fact that the specific Court also has Italian jurisdiction.’
      • ‘The Court further agreed with the Commission that the primary purpose of the requirement that trade between Member States be affected was to allow for jurisdictional competence to be determined.’
      • ‘In my submission, the extraterritorial legislative competence does not depend on how another State has dealt with the subject matter.’
      • ‘Unsurprisingly, provinces can't legislate on matters of federal competence and nor can Parliament legislate on matters of provincial competence.’
      • ‘The Commission's role relates only to its legal powers and competence.’
      • ‘Privatisation of municipal enterprises falls within the competence of the municipal councils.’
      • ‘He claimed that the International Court of Justice in The Hague is the only body with the authority and competence to hear arguments concerning the war's legality.’
      authority, power, control, jurisdiction, ambit, scope, remit
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    2. 1.2 The ability of a criminal defendant to stand trial, as gauged by their mental ability to understand the proceedings and to assist defense lawyers.
      • ‘The Supreme Court considered whether a criminal defendant could be forcibly medicated to maintain his competence to stand trial.’
      • ‘If this is so, then we must make some major changes in how to view his mental competence.’
      • ‘Many of the cases on the legal test for competence have concerned children and young people, and they are discussed in detail in Chapter 12.’
    3. 1.3Linguistics A speaker's subconscious, intuitive knowledge of the rules of their language.
      Often contrasted with performance
      • ‘Communicative competence is a theory of the nature of such knowledge and proficiency.’
      • ‘Most testing instruments rely on the assumption that it is possible to separate analytically different aspects of language competence without reference to the context of use.’
      • ‘When assessments are aligned with a prescriptivist view of language ability, many proficient or competent speakers of the language will not fare well on the test for reasons unrelated to language competence.’
      • ‘This internal representation is their interlanguage competence.’
      • ‘The current interest in the development of communicative competence has led attention to the social uses of language in second language teaching and research.’
    4. 1.4Medicine Biology Effective performance of the normal function.
      • ‘Alterations in a normal response to inflammatory challenge may impact immune competence and overall animal performance.’
      • ‘In the bacteria Haemophilus influenza and Bacillus subtilis, starvation has been shown to increase competence for DNA uptake.’
      • ‘Second, immune system competence is improved by removal of the large tumor mass.’
      • ‘Circumstances that upset the balance of immunologic competence, such as stress, can impair the local inflammatory response.’
      • ‘This shows that none of the genes absent from B. subtilis 6 is required for competence development.’
      adequacy, appropriateness, suitability, fitness
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  • 2dated An income large enough to live on, typically unearned.

    ‘he found himself with an ample competence and no obligations’