If you are competent, you have the necessary ability or skills to do something. If you can carry a heavy tray of food and store a table’s worth of orders in your head, you are probably a competent waiter.

The opposite of competent is incompetent — an incompetent travel agent might send you to Bahrain when you requested Britain. But competent on its own can sometimes be a veiled criticism, with the implication that someone competent is just going to through the motions — you’d rather have someone inspired on the job. In legal language, competent describes someone who has the mental capacity to take part in a trial or sign a contract.

Definitions of competent
  1. adjective

    properly or sufficiently qualified or capable or efficient

    competent typist”


    (usually followed by `of’) having capacity or ability
    able, capable

    have the skills and qualifications to do things well
    effective, efficient

    able to accomplish a purpose; functioning effectively

    worthy of a good workman

    being effective without wasting time or effort or expense

    meeting the proper standards and requirements and training for an office or position or task

    having or showing or requiring special skill
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    not qualified or suited for a purpose
    feckless, inept

    generally incompetent and ineffectual
    ineffective, inefficient

    lacking the ability or skill to perform effectively; inadequate

    not characteristic of or suitable for a good workman

    not producing desired results; wasteful

    not meeting the proper standards and requirements and training

    not having or showing or requiring special skill or proficiency
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  2. adjective

    legally qualified or sufficient

    competent court”
    competent testimony”
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    incompetent, unqualified

    legally not qualified or sufficient

  3. adjective

    adequate for the purpose

    competent performance”

    adequate, equal

    having the requisite qualities or resources to meet a task

Word Family