Meaning of “competent” in the English Dictionary

"competent" in British English

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competentadjective

uk /ˈkɒm.pɪ.tənt/ us /ˈkɑːm.pə.t̬ənt/

C1 able to do something well:

a competent secretary/rider/cook
I wouldn't say he was brilliant but he is competent at his job.
Opposite

More examples

  • She has shown herself to be a highly competent manager.
  • She's extremely competent and industrious - an asset to the department.
  • It's a competent enough piece of writing but it has no flair.
  • Charlie can cope here without you - he's perfectly competent.
  • They are a very competent group of people, but they lack flexibility and originality.
competently
adverb uk /ˈkɒm.pɪ.tənt.li/ us /ˈkɑːm.pə.t̬ənt.li/

I thought she played the role very competently.

(Definition of “competent” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"competent" in American English

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competentadjective

us /ˈkɑm·pə·t̬ənt/

having the skills or knowledge to do something well enough to meet a basic standard:

[ + to infinitive ] All we want is someone competent to manage the staff.

law having enough mental ability for a particular purpose:

[ + to infinitive ] The judge decided that he was competent to stand trial.
competence
noun [ U ] us /ˈkɑm·pə·t̬əns/

He reached a reasonable level of competence in English.

(Definition of “competent” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"competent" in Business English

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competentadjective

uk /ˈkɒmpɪtənt/ us

able to do something well:

A competent sales manager should have known exactly what to do in that situation.
Operators must be fully competent in the use of the system.
We have highly competent consultants, with a broad range of expertise.

good enough, but not excellent:

People who work for us need to be more than merely competent; they need to excel.

LAW able or allowed to make legal decisions:

The prospective jurors did not indicate whether they thought the plaintiff was competent.
competently
adverb /ˈkɒmpɪtəntli/ /ˈkɑːmpəṱənt-/

Each candidate implies that the other cannot be trusted to run the economy competently.

(Definition of “competent” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)