Definition of competent in US English:



  • 1Having the necessary ability, knowledge, or skill to do something successfully.

    ‘a highly competent surgeon’
    ‘make sure the firm is competent to carry out the work’
    • ‘To begin with, we view doctors as the experts competent to help insure that pregnancy has a good outcome: a healthy baby.’
    • ‘In the center zone, the learner is knowledgeable and competent to complete tasks on his own.’
    • ‘Standardization simply supports the safe practice of competent clinicians.’
    • ‘Nurse practitioners have become competent lower gastrointestinal endoscopists, but only recently have they been shown to carry out upper endoscopies without any problems.’
    • ‘The voters' choice is now more like that of shareholders deciding which of two or three competing management teams seems more competent to run the company.’
    • ‘Workers experience autonomy within the work organization when they feel competent to act alone.’
    • ‘Hospital officials say general surgeons have to be competent to do everything - or do nothing.’
    • ‘My next question relates to the purpose of the bill, which is written down as being to protect the public interest by aiming to ensure that veterinarians are competent to practise.’
    • ‘As a result, colleges of agriculture must ensure that graduates are competent in computer skills necessary for success with regard to these trends.’
    • ‘A major challenge for colleges of pharmacy is to produce competent pharmacy practitioners while minimizing student attrition.’
    • ‘He is competent and decent - but lacks that certain something.’
    • ‘Are health care providers competent and educated?’
    • ‘It is really thrilling that the bill will further protect the public by ensuring that practitioners are not only fit to practise but also competent to do so.’
    • ‘Everyone associated with a particular piece of equipment must be familiar with it and competent to use it correctly.’
    • ‘He said that a qualification received 20 years ago was a qualification received 20 years ago - it does not make one competent to practise.’
    • ‘These types of crimes are disturbing, and their victims need advocates who are competent in both medical and legal settings.’
    • ‘But it may be some time before they do their part to teach young people all the skills necessary to become competent, successful adults.’
    • ‘They allow children the opportunities to learn relevant skills and feel competent about their ability to learn.’
    • ‘Please approach a general surgeon who is competent to do both forms of surgery.’
    • ‘In fact, I've always rather thought he was a very able, competent public servant.’
    acquainted with, familiar with, with a knowledge of, with an understanding of, conversant with, au courant with, au fait with
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    1. 1.1 (of a person) efficient and capable.
      ‘an infinitely competent mother of three’
      • ‘So basically, the thought is that this woman is going to start slashing the department, and only the really competent people will remain.’
      • ‘Use words that show her that she is competent, capable, and talented.’
      • ‘Most importantly, he is also a very competent member of a trawler's crew, capable of gutting the fish fast enough to keep the packers happy.’
      • ‘For example, there's an ingrained distrust in our society of highly intelligent, highly trained, highly competent persons.’
      • ‘What he discovered was that while a company can have talented and competent employees, they can readily get in trouble.’
      • ‘She's competent and skilful and brave and strong.’
      • ‘These are highly professional, highly competent people.’
      • ‘But this couple are two highly trained and, obviously, highly competent people who are happy to come to this country and benefit from the nice New Zealand taxpayer.’
      • ‘The observation brought to mind the fact that we train highly competent women students for a career in IT.’
      • ‘Tang and Siew are both talented and competent persons.’
      • ‘We will continue to develop well-educated, motivated, and competent people skilled in the demands of the space medium.’
      • ‘They will say he's more competent and more accomplished.’
      capable, able, proficient, adept, adroit, accomplished, skilful, skilled, gifted, talented, masterly, virtuoso, expert, knowledgeable, qualified, trained
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    2. 1.2 Acceptable and satisfactory, though not outstanding.
      ‘she spoke quite competent French’
      • ‘Our information concerning Mormonism must be accurate and up-to-date, while our critique must be competent as well as fair.’
      • ‘The combination of glossy production, adequate acting and competent editing was enough to make Pearl Harbor or The Mummy Returns at least tolerable.’
      • ‘First, the good news: the soundtrack is a simple stereo mix, and sounds reasonably competent.’
      • ‘But most were at least competent, some outstanding.’
      • ‘In short, it was silly, funny, competent and only moderately contrived (for the genre).’
      • ‘The video and audio is about what you'd expect for an independent release - competent, but not outstanding.’
      • ‘No matter how low the taxes are considered to be here, I still don't see the point in paying them at the expense of a humane, decent, competent, consistent and affordable health care system that anyone deserves.’
      • ‘Patients expected competent nursing care and clear, consistent communication and coordination between members of the healthcare team.’
      • ‘The IOC makes the NFL look at least reasonably competent.’
      • ‘The half continued with both sides competent but neither outstanding.’
      • ‘K - 19: The Widowmaker is a competent, satisfactory submarine movie.’
      • ‘We'd been warned about possible poor service, but actually it was competent, if not outstanding.’
      • ‘I'm interested in the fact that neither side in this argument seemed adequately competent.’
      • ‘So maybe Interpol will continue to mature and put out decent, enjoyable, competent albums for the rest of their career.’
      • ‘The Federation is by far the most competent (another reason to play them) in terms of technology, economy and sheer size.’
      • ‘To do this well requires skill no less than does a competent physical examination.’
      • ‘I really want to replace my lovely Pentax SLR with a moderately competent equivalent.’
      • ‘Overall, it's a competent but not outstanding transfer from Columbia.’
      • ‘One of the most common features of death row cases in Texas is the lack of adequate or competent defense.’
      adequate, acceptable, satisfactory, reasonable, fair, decent, good enough, sufficiently good, not bad, all right, average, tolerable, passable, moderate, middling
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    3. 1.3 (of a court or other body) accepted as having legal authority to deal with a particular matter.
      ‘the governor was not the competent authority to deal with the matter’
      • ‘The issue in question must have been decided by a court or tribunal of competent jurisdiction.’
      • ‘It would be wholly absurd to regard each State Department Advisory or similar warning by a competent authority as a separate occurrence for the purposes of the deductible.’
      • ‘It is a question of fact and degree in respect of which the court will only interfere with the decision of the competent authority if its conclusion is plainly wrong.’
      • ‘What it means is that a competent authority, presumably ASIO, assessed him as an adverse security risk.’
      • ‘That our appeals to competent authority were wholly inconsistent doesn't matter.’
      • ‘There is a right of recourse against any other person liable under the Protocol, or under a contract, or under the law of the competent court.’
      • ‘The doctrine of res judicata prevents relitigation of matters that have already been determined by a court of competent jurisdiction.’
      • ‘I went to court because the court is the only competent authority to judge whether the allegation holds or not.’
      • ‘It would be safe and in conformity with legal and moral principles that you turn to a competent court of justice and file for a divorce.’
      • ‘That being the case, it is inconceivable to me that an accused cannot raise, by way of prerogative writ, the issue of the statutory validity of service before a court of competent jurisdiction.’
      • ‘In some cases, things may have happened (e.g. a conviction by a competent court or action being taken with a view to removal) which justify detention.’
      • ‘She concedes that a review by a competent authority was required before the claimant could be considered for release.’
      • ‘However it appears to the Environment Agency that the ancient navigable status of the Thames at Hedsor has never been extinguished by statute or by any other competent authority.’
      • ‘My third point is that I note that the Ministry of Economic Development is New Zealand's competent authority in relation to this legislation.’
      • ‘Notification of charges should be prompt, preferably as soon as a competent authority first makes the charge.’
      • ‘In Germany and The Netherlands, for example, the protocol can be submitted to both the competent authority and the ethics committee simultaneously.’
      • ‘In other words, this is a finding of fact for the competent authority dealing with the case in the first instance and which, for reasons we give hereunder, we should not interfere with.’
      • ‘Area military commanders, or the competent authority appointed by the president, have the power to requisition buildings, land and vehicles for relief work.’
      • ‘Under Article 9 the procedure of an appeal to a competent authority must precede the decision ordering expulsion except in cases of urgency.’
      • ‘Following his ‘conviction by a competent court’ in December 1966, he was sentenced to life imprisonment.’
      fit, fitted, equipped, suitable, suited, appropriate
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    4. 1.4 (of a criminal defendant) able to understand the charges and to aid in defending themselves.
    5. 1.5Medicine Biology Capable of performing the normal function effectively.
      • ‘‘This work challenges the view that neonates are not immune competent at birth,’ said Dr Griebel.’
      • ‘The corrected reticulocyte index should be elevated in patients with an acute anemia but a competent bone marrow.’
      • ‘Thirdly, simvastatin inhibits endothelial cell apoptosis and preserves ischaemic vasculature, perhaps maintaining a competent vascular supply to the macula.’


Late Middle English (in the sense ‘suitable, adequate’): from Latin competent-, from the verb competere in its earlier sense ‘be fit or proper’ (see compete).