Definition of incumbent in English:

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Pronunciation: /ɪnˈkʌmb(ə)nt/


1 (incumbent on/upon) Necessary for (someone) as a duty or responsibility: the government realized that it was incumbent on them to act
More example sentences
  • The former is a duty incumbent upon all Muslims, the latter a duty incumbent upon the ‘Islamic state’.
  • It's incumbent upon everybody to take responsibility about what is happening in our country.
  • The acquisition of knowledge is a duty incumbent on every Muslim, male and female.
2 [attributive] (Of an official or regime) currently holding office: the incumbent President was defeated
More example sentences
  • A change in anyone's government gets far more attention than an election that returns the incumbent government to office.
  • The GNP is standing at the crossroads, facing a road to a permanent opposition party or being reborn as the main pillar to support national politics as the alternative force of the incumbent regime.
  • Instead of highlighting the brutality sustaining the incumbent regimes in power, these analysts blame the victims.
current, existing, present, in office, in power;
3 [attributive] (Of a company) having a sizeable share of a market: powerful incumbent airlines
More example sentences
  • So long as free entry and exit exists in markets, incumbent businesses can earn only competitive rates of profit.
  • They also were incumbent companies that resisted change and eventually were consumed by it.
  • We hear a lot about barriers to entry and how those insuperable walls can be a natural protection for incumbent companies.


1The holder of an office or post: the present incumbent will soon be retiring
More example sentences
  • Voters may look back on an incumbent's performance in office, and cast a retrospective vote, or may compare what the candidates promise to do if elected to office, and vote prospectively.
  • In terms of incumbents losing office in Australia, this is the lowest vote that we've ever heard of in any public election for anything.
  • One is, we're asking incumbents to vote to change a system that keeps incumbents in office.
holder, bearer, occupant;
office-holder, office-bearer, officer, functionary, official
1.1 Christian Church The holder of an ecclesiastical benefice.
Example sentences
  • The monk or nun incumbents will probably engage in daily devotions and practices, as well as giving teachings, blessings and ceremonies for the laity.
  • A provost is the head of the cathedral chapter in a number of the Church of England's more recently created dioceses in which the cathedral is also a parish church and the provost is the incumbent.
  • He visited the eclectic congregation systematically and, with the support of the incumbent, initiated weekly Bible studies, men's meetings and other teaching activities.


Late Middle English (as a noun): from Anglo-Latin incumbens, incumbent-, from Latin incumbere 'lie or lean on', from in- 'upon' + a verb related to cubare 'lie'.

Words that rhyme with incumbent

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