from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Properly or sufficiently qualified; capable: a competent typist.
  • adj. Adequate for the purpose: a competent performance.
  • adj. Law Legally qualified or fit to perform an act.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Having sufficient skill, knowledge, ability, or qualifications.
  • adj. Having jurisdiction or authority over a particular issue or question.
  • adj. Adequate for the purpose

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Answering to all requirements; adequate; sufficient; suitable; capable; legally qualified; fit.
  • adj. Rightfully or properly belonging; incident; -- followed by to.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Answering all requirements; suitable; fit; sufficient or adequate for the purpose: as, competent supplies of food and clothing; an army competent to the defense of the kingdom.
  • Having ability or capacity; properly qualified: as, a competent bookkeeper.
  • In law, having legal capacity or qualification: as, a competent judge or court; a competent witness.
  • Rightfully or lawfully belonging; pertaining by right; permissible: followed by to.
  • Fitted, etc. See qualified.
  • In physical geography, of a stream, capable of transporting fragments of a given size.
  • In geology, having sufficient firmness and strength to transmit pressure to other strata or to lift an overlying burden, as a rock or stratum.
  • n. One of the competentes (which see).

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. properly or sufficiently qualified or capable or efficient
  • adj. adequate for the purpose
  • adj. legally qualified or sufficient


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English, adequate, from Old French, from Latin competēns, competent-, present participle of competere, to be suitable; see compete.


  • (which nobody denies actually to subsist,) and after stating, that, if juries are not reputed competent to try the whole matter, the benefit of trial by jury will be of none or imperfect effect, it enacts, not that the jury _shall_ have the _power_, but that they shall be _held and reputed in law and right competent_ to try the whole matter laid in the information.

    The Works of the Right Honourable Edmund Burke, Vol. 07 (of 12)

  • Devaud said that a Pakistani government anti-corruption agency had posted on its Web site what he described as competent English-language translations of the original orders he had issued against Bhutto, Zardari and Schlegelmilch in 2003.

    Zardari on the Hot Seat

  • We have constant, what we call competent air patrol or CAP over New York and over Washington.

    CNN Transcript Oct 10, 2001

  • This awful expression refers to a firm's or a person's fundamental strength-even though that's not what the word "competent" means. News

  • As I have written above, what we know as competent physical science pertains to man's relationship to the subject-matters of the domain of the abiotic and the Biosphere; Classical artistic expressions pertain to the essential relationship of the creative faculties through which human relations as such are expressed in an ironical mode comparable to that of physical scientific practice.

    LaRouche's Latest

  • The fact that brown could lie about his own intentions and his goals is totally down to in competent democratic message handling.

    Balloon Juice » Blog Archive » Things Will Burn

  • The ability of your children to have a positive emotional reaction begins with a firm grounding in their feeling loved, secure, and competent, in other words, their self-esteem.

    Dr. Jim Taylor: Freak Out or Geek Out?: Children's Emotional Reactions to Achievement

  • They'll increase our ability to train competent Afghan security forces, and to partner with them so that more Afghans can get into the fight.

    Obama: President's Address on Afghanistan and Pakistan

  • It seems that over the past 30 years being mentally competent is no longer a requirement to run in the political arena, and there seems to be a precedent for having someone who is not “all there” in the White House.

    Think Progress » McCain To Propose Amendment Prohibiting Changes To Medicare Using Reconciliation

  • The American people would believe they believed in competent governance and liberal issues like Health Care Reform and Climate Change might get an easier hearing.

    Matthew Yglesias » Democratic Presidents’ Base Problem


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