[ adjective uh-dept; noun ad-ept, uh-dept ]
/ adjective əˈdɛpt; noun ˈæd ɛpt, əˈdɛpt /
Save This Word!
See synonyms for: adept / adeptly / adeptness on Thesaurus.com


very skilled; proficient; expert: an adept juggler.

noun ad·ept [ad-ept, uh-dept] /ˈæd ɛpt, əˈdɛpt/

a skilled or proficient person; expert.



We understand! Words are tricky that way. Take this quiz on the Words of the Day from February, 2021, to show that you’re far from frumious!
Question 1 of 10
Which Word of the Day means “happening within or being the created world of a story”?

Origin of adept

First recorded in 1655–65; from Medieval Latin adeptus “one who has attained (the secret of transmuting metals),” noun use of Latin past participle of adipiscī “to attain to” (ad- “toward” + -ep- combining form of ap- in aptus + -tus past participle suffix); see ad-, apt
The Latin noun adepti “those who have attained knowledge of the esoteric secrets of alchemy,” seems first to have appeared in the works of the Swiss physician and alchemist Paracelsus, and later, in the works of the Flemish chemist and physician Jan Baptista van Helmont. Twice in Ulysses, James Joyce uses the noun adept in reference to Madame Blavatsky and her Theosophical Society.
The noun adept originally meant “one who has gained knowledge of the of alchemy, the occult, hermetic philosophy, and magic,” which is Joyce’s use of the word. As both noun and adjective, it developed the more general sense “(a person) highly skilled or proficient in a subject.” The adjective adept appears about a quarter of a century before the noun, but they have the same etymology, coming from Latin adeptus, the perfect participle of adipiscī “to overtake, catch up with, obtain, achieve.”
Adipiscī is a compound formation of the preposition and prefix ad, ad-, here in the sense of “reaching,” and the verb apiscī “to seize hold of, grasp.” Apiscī is a frequentative verb formed from the rare verb apere “to fasten, attach, bind,” whose perfect participle aptus “tied, bound, connected, fitted with, ready for” is very common in Latin and is the source of English apt.
adapt, adept , adopt
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

British Dictionary definitions for adept


adjective (əˈdɛpt)

very proficient in something requiring skill or manual dexterity
skilful; expert

noun (ˈædɛpt)

a person who is skilled or proficient in something
adeptly, adverbadeptness, noun
C17: from Medieval Latin adeptus, from Latin adipiscī to attain, from ad- to + apiscī to attain
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
Learning At Home Just Got Easier!