Definition of competence in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈkɒmpɪt(ə)ns/
(also competency /ˈkɒmpɪt(ənsi/)


1 [mass noun] The ability to do something successfully or efficiently: courses to improve the competence of staff 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 to cover these matters
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, remit
1.2 (also linguistic or language competence) Linguistics A person’s subconscious knowledge of the rules governing the formation of speech in their first 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.
1.3 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.
effectiveness, efficacy, productiveness;
value, worth, merit
2 dated An income large enough to live on, typically an unearned one: he found himself with an ample competence and no obligations

Words that rhyme with competence


For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: com|pe¦tence

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Related Words