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[dih-fish-uh nt] /dɪˈfɪʃ ənt/
lacking some element or characteristic; defective:
deficient in taste.
insufficient; inadequate:
deficient knowledge.
a person who is deficient, especially one who is mentally defective.
Origin of deficient
1575-85; < Latin dēficient- (stem of dēficiēns, present participle of dēficere to fail, run short, lack, weaken), equivalent to dē- de- + fic-, combining form of facere to make, do1 + thematic -i- + -ent- -ent
Related forms
deficiently, adverb
nondeficient, adjective
nondeficiently, adverb
predeficient, adjective
predeficiently, adverb
undeficient, adjective
undeficiently, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for deficient
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Sometimes he is sure she is deficient in understanding, and at others that her temper only is in fault.

    Lady Susan Jane Austen
  • Sir John was not, on his side, deficient in attention to his own interests.

  • By that good lady the Houris are said to be held in deficient esteem.

    The Devil's Dictionary Ambrose Bierce
  • Not to be deficient in interest, Clennam asked what he might be doing there?

    Little Dorrit Charles Dickens
  • He was agreeable, too agreeable; he certainly had not bad manners, but he was deficient in tact.

    My Double Life Sarah Bernhardt
  • He might as well say that John Bunyan was deficient in ethical instincts.

    Alarms and Discursions G. K. Chesterton
  • It is manner in which the literature of all nations is deficient.

    Vivian Grey Earl of Beaconsfield, Benjamin Disraeli
  • She desired to protect them, and often felt that they could protect her, excelling where she was deficient.

    Howards End E. M. Forster
British Dictionary definitions for deficient


lacking some essential; incomplete; defective
inadequate in quantity or supply; insufficient
Derived Forms
deficiently, adverb
Word Origin
C16: from Latin dēficiēns lacking, from dēficere to fall short; see defect
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for deficient

1580s, from Latin deficientem (nominative deficiens), present participle of deficere "to desert, revolt, fail," from de- "down, away" (see de-) + facere "to do, perform" (see factitious).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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deficient in Medicine

deficient de·fi·cient (dĭ-fĭsh'ənt)

  1. Lacking an essential quality or element.

  2. Inadequate in amount or degree; insufficient.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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