Definition of competence in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkämpədəns/
(also competency /-tənsē/)


1The ability to do something successfully or efficiently: the players displayed varying degrees of competence
More example sentences
  • Some employees are enthusiastic about their supervisor's competence and skills.
  • She had many friends and related openly and well to me, implying skills in social competence.
  • In our experience, the competence and skills of traditional birth attendants may vary widely across settings.
1.1The legal authority of a court or other body to deal with a particular matter: the court’s competence has been accepted
More example sentences
  • A court's competence to grant an anti-suit injunction seems to derive from its jurisdiction to adjudicate.
  • But the courts have no competence to nullify, repeal or amend the legislation in question.
  • The Assembly is given competence to exercise legislative authority in respect of those matters falling under the responsibility of the six Northern Ireland Government Departments.
authority, power, control, jurisdiction, ambit, scope
1.2The ability of a criminal defendant to stand trial, as gauged by their mental ability to understand the proceedings and to assist defense lawyers.
Example sentences
  • The Supreme Court considered whether a criminal defendant could be forcibly medicated to maintain his competence to stand trial.
  • If this is so, then we must make some major changes in how to view his mental competence.
  • Many of the cases on the legal test for competence have concerned children and young people, and they are discussed in detail in Chapter 12.
1.3 (also linguistic or language competence) Linguistics A speaker’s subconscious, intuitive knowledge of the rules of their language. Often contrasted with performance.
Example sentences
  • Most testing instruments rely on the assumption that it is possible to separate analytically different aspects of language competence without reference to the context of use.
  • When assessments are aligned with a prescriptivist view of language ability, many proficient or competent speakers of the language will not fare well on the test for reasons unrelated to language competence.
  • Communicative competence is a theory of the nature of such knowledge and proficiency.
1.4 Biology & Medicine Effective performance of the normal function.
Example sentences
  • Circumstances that upset the balance of immunologic competence, such as stress, can impair the local inflammatory response.
  • In the bacteria Haemophilus influenza and Bacillus subtilis, starvation has been shown to increase competence for DNA uptake.
  • Alterations in a normal response to inflammatory challenge may impact immune competence and overall animal performance.
formal efficacy
2 dated An income large enough to live on, typically unearned: he found himself with an ample competence and no obligations

Words that rhyme with competence


For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: com·pe·tence

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