View synonyms for competence


[ kom-pi-tuhns ]


  1. the quality of being competent; adequacy; possession of required skill, knowledge, qualification, or capacity:

    He hired her because of her competence as an accountant.

  2. an income sufficient to furnish the necessities and modest comforts of life.
  3. sufficiency; a sufficient quantity.
  4. Law. (of a witness, a party to a contract, etc.) legal capacity or qualification based on the meeting of certain minimum requirements of age, soundness of mind, citizenship, or the like.
  5. Embryology. the sum total of possible developmental responses of any group of blastemic cells under varied external conditions.
  6. Linguistics. the implicit, internalized knowledge of a language that a speaker possesses and that enables the speaker to produce and understand the language. Compare performance ( def 8 ).
  7. Immunology. immunocompetence.
  8. Geology. the ability of a fluid medium, as a stream or the wind, to move and carry particulate matter, measured by the size or weight of the largest particle that can be transported.


/ ˈkɒmpɪtəns /


  1. the condition of being capable; ability
  2. a sufficient income to live on
  3. the state of being legally competent or qualified
  4. embryol the ability of embryonic tissues to react to external conditions in a way that influences subsequent development
  5. linguistics (in transformational grammar) the form of the human language faculty, independent of its psychological embodiment in actual human beings Compare performance langue parole
“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


/ kŏmpĭ-təns /

  1. The ability of bacteria to be undergo genetic transformation .
  2. The ability to respond immunologically to an antigen, as in an immune cell responding to a virus.
  3. The ability to function normally because of structural integrity, as in a heart valve.

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Word History and Origins

Origin of competence1

First recorded in 1585–95; compet(ent) + -ence
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Example Sentences

Once again, the invisibility from the government over this population will make Puerto Rico’s path towards cultural competence education and acceptance of the diversity its citizens harder.

The competence of the office is a fair question, but the fraud accusation is absurd.

They also offer a sense of mastery and competence that can give them an advantage over more passive forms of entertainment like movies or books.

With most skills, the progression from competence to excellence comes from building upon each new lesson that you learn.

From a humble novice, skill learners progressed to the advanced beginner stage, then on to a sort of midpoint of competence, before climbing further to proficiency, finally summiting at expertise.

If that state is to be further armed with new laws, its competence will be even more on the line.

When you look at Mona Lisa, what you see is a woman of confidence and competence and compassion.

Voters prize gubernatorial competence above gubernatorial ideology.

Whatever your views on capital punishment, the incident raises questions of basic competence.

But when did they become the litmus test of competence in office?

Nine-tenths of those who have a competence know what income they have, and are careful not to spend more.

He is a business man of great competence, and I think he ought to be able to do much to get things on to a ship-shape footing.

There are prairie farmers who would consider what he is leaving behind him a competence.

At the same time he began lending money on short time, and by speculating with the poorer class he acquired a certain competence.

Page 229 Chapter X a comma was inserted in the phrase 'he would secure the competence he had yearned for, for so many years'.