Definition of incumbent in US English:



  • 1incumbent on/uponpredicative Necessary for (someone) as a duty or responsibility.

    ‘it is incumbent on all decent people to concentrate on destroying this evil’
    • ‘Therefore, it was incumbent upon the coalition partners to frankly, honestly and realistically examine, debate and sort out the issue.’
    • ‘If the actual timing of the closing was a critical term of any agreement, then it was incumbent on the Respondent to stipulate that in his offer.’
    • ‘A further example of this difficulty concerns the special responsibility incumbent on firms in a dominant position.’
    • ‘It is incumbent on the Government to accept that responsibility and explain to the people of the region what will happen.’
    • ‘In most Western countries, the law values the presumption of innocence, where it is incumbent upon the person alleging an offence to prove that the offence has taken place.’
    • ‘There was no doubt that it was incumbent upon the Respondent in making the ex parte application to make full and frank disclosure.’
    • ‘It was incumbent on him to prove that his duty was discharged before he could invoke the clause.’
    • ‘But, given their failure, it was incumbent upon them to respond to the argument in some manner.’
    • ‘It is very much incumbent on those who are responsible for the detention to bring forward relevant information.’
    • ‘The former is a duty incumbent upon all Muslims, the latter a duty incumbent upon the ‘Islamic state’.’
    • ‘It is still incumbent upon all of us to take it further.’
    • ‘I am not being judgmental or unwelcoming, but I feel that it is incumbent upon me to inform you that I am unaware of the existence of any private pictures about those gentlemen.’
    • ‘The acquisition of knowledge is a duty incumbent on every Muslim, male and female.’
    • ‘In the absence of justice, peace cannot survive, which makes it incumbent upon Muslims to remove injustice, even if it involves resistance.’
    • ‘It's incumbent upon everybody to take responsibility about what is happening in our country.’
    • ‘To put it more practically, if an election really has to be the choice of the lesser of two evils, isn't it incumbent upon you to make sure who the lesser of two evils is?’
    • ‘An occasion is privileged if the statement is made pursuant to a legal, social or moral duty incumbent upon the defendant.’
    • ‘However, it also sets out a number of duties incumbent upon the American citizen.’
    • ‘Teachers and lecturers feel it incumbent upon themselves, when teaching his great works, Death of a Salesman and The Crucible, to explain the context.’
    • ‘Indeed, the prayer is a duty incumbent on the faithful to be discharged at appointed hours.’
    binding, obligatory, mandatory, necessary, compulsory, required, requisite, essential, imperative
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  • 2attributive (of an official or regime) currently holding office.

    ‘the incumbent president had been defeated’
    • ‘It is difficult to defeat an incumbent governor.’
    • ‘The GNP is standing at the crossroads, facing a road to a permanent opposition party or being reborn as the main pillar to support national politics as the alternative force of the incumbent regime.’
    • ‘It is a small union and it does not take many votes to defeat an incumbent official.’
    • ‘Instead of highlighting the brutality sustaining the incumbent regimes in power, these analysts blame the victims.’
    • ‘Each year the incumbent officials perform ceremonies to remember the event.’
    • ‘And the incumbent governor of Mississippi is a Democrat.’
    • ‘Yet, the reform drive should not concentrate only on ousting old faces allegedly responsible for the corruption and misadministraion of the incumbent government.’
    • ‘Needless to say, it implies that the business environment of Korea has deteriorated throughout the final year of the incumbent government.’
    • ‘Unless an incumbent government takes an active interest in improving the supply of public services, benign neglect will inevitably lead to a gradual deterioration.’
    • ‘Yet, the incumbent government has been generous to the group by taking lenient measures against its members who are on police's wanted list for their unlawful activities over the past years.’
    • ‘And while the official results are still coming in it appears incumbent governments across Europe have suffered at the hands of voters.’
    • ‘These models essentially confirm that the level of economic pain we are now feeling is not commensurate with voting an incumbent president out of office.’
    • ‘The main party associated with the incumbent regime won only about 15 percent in 1993 and 10 percent in 1995.’
    • ‘The incumbent officials no doubt feel the need to do something to boost their standing in the eyes of union members increasingly disillusioned with the erosion of conditions.’
    • ‘They were media events, too, staged as much for the international press corps as to put pressure on the incumbent regimes.’
    • ‘‘If we were heads of these localities, we might act in the same way as these incumbent officials did,’ Lee admitted.’
    • ‘They are also calling on the city executive to stop transferring workers who are aligned with political opponents of incumbent officials.’
    • ‘A change in anyone's government gets far more attention than an election that returns the incumbent government to office.’
    • ‘In a democracy, on the eve of a quadrennial election, the incumbent government plainly has a motive to encourage the media to report positively on its record but also negatively on the rival.’
    • ‘Without question, survival is a basic goal of incumbent regimes of all nation-states; North Korea is no exception.’
    current, existing, present, in office, in power
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  • 1The holder of an office or post.

    • ‘The very idea of the present incumbent supporting a factory occupation is laughable.’
    • ‘It is also in part the result of the greater importance of the Council Presidency and the fact that the incumbent of this Office will often have an agenda which he or she wishes to see achieved.’
    • ‘One thing that stands out is the lousy re-election rates of senators who came to office by defeating incumbents to get their seats.’
    • ‘One is, we're asking incumbents to vote to change a system that keeps incumbents in office.’
    • ‘Eleven years after he took up the Festival's reins, with two more to run on his current contract, he is now the longest-serving incumbent of a post he has described as ‘the best job in the world’.’
    • ‘The present incumbent is I think magnificent at not being rattled by anything.’
    • ‘Then as now, a majority of the electorate disapproved of the incumbent's performance.’
    • ‘Today, at 69, he is one of the oldest incumbents of that office.’
    • ‘Thus, in mulling over a formula for my ideal PM, I found it helpful to consider separately the office, the incumbent, the candidate.’
    • ‘The incumbents of the office were to be changed, by election, each year.’
    • ‘But we cannot just resort to blaming the present incumbents for our circumstances.’
    • ‘In terms of incumbents losing office in Australia, this is the lowest vote that we've ever heard of in any public election for anything.’
    • ‘A quarter of a century later, he is one of the oldest incumbents of the same office.’
    • ‘Voters may look back on an incumbent's performance in office, and cast a retrospective vote, or may compare what the candidates promise to do if elected to office, and vote prospectively.’
    • ‘He is a decent, honest man, though given to prolixity; no genius, but then certainly no worse than the present incumbent.’
    • ‘Notwithstanding widespread fears that the President to-be would be a clone of the present incumbent, the reality may be different.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, the legislative districts are designed to protect the incumbent.’
    • ‘It is blatantly obvious that the current incumbents at the Home Office cannot even spell the words civil and liberty, let alone grasp their meaning.’
    • ‘Later Prime Ministers were unwilling to challenge those interests; the present incumbent may be unable to do so.’
    • ‘Elections in which an incumbent president is running typically are referenda on the job performance of the incumbent.’
    holder, bearer, occupant
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    1. 1.1Christian Church The holder of an ecclesiastical benefice.
      • ‘The trainee pastor, on loan to the church because the resident incumbent has gone off his rocker, is so damp behind the ears he doesn't notice when ladies make passes.’
      • ‘A provost is the head of the cathedral chapter in a number of the Church of England's more recently created dioceses in which the cathedral is also a parish church and the provost is the incumbent.’
      • ‘For 12 months cameras will follow the fortunes of the St Mary Magdalene's, which at present is being looked after by a vicar from a neighbouring parish, as the new incumbent tries to make a difference.’
      • ‘He visited the eclectic congregation systematically and, with the support of the incumbent, initiated weekly Bible studies, men's meetings and other teaching activities.’
      • ‘The monk or nun incumbents will probably engage in daily devotions and practices, as well as giving teachings, blessings and ceremonies for the laity.’


Late Middle English (as a noun): from Anglo-Latin incumbens, incumbent-, from Latin incumbere ‘lie or lean on’, from in- ‘upon’ + a verb related to cubare ‘lie’.