The Meaning of Proficient: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of proficient? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word proficient, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word proficient mean?

American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language and Collins English Dictionary state that the word proficient (adj.) means able to do something well. If someone is proficient, this means that they are adept at something, or have a special aptitude or thorough competence at a skill or task, or branch of knowledge or branch of learning. Someone could be proficient at their profession, vocation or occupation like a proficient engineer, a technical skill such as a skilled surgeon or proficient riders, a practical skill like a proficient swimmer, skilled archers, huntsmen, a golfer, or people who do martial arts. The word proficient is also used in the evaluation of wines.

One can add many different suffixes to make related word forms like the present participle. Different forms of proficient include proficiency and proficiently. Proficient is three syllables – pro-fi-cient. The pronunciation of proficient is prəˈfɪʃənt.

Many different languages also contain words that mean proficient. You may notice that some of these words look very similar to one another. These are called cognates. Cognates are words and phrases that look and sound similar between languages while also meaning something similar. These are often formed when two words have the same language of origin or root. This list of translations for the word proficient is provided by Word Sense

  •  Icelandic: fær‎, snjall‎
  •  Hindi: प्रवीण‎ (pravīṇ)
  •  French: compétent‎
  •  Maori: kaiaka‎
  •  Swedish: sakkunnig‎, erfaren‎
  •  Norwegian: flink‎
  •  Mandarin: 熟練‎, 熟练‎ (shúliàn), 諳練‎, 谙练‎ (ānliàn), 精通的‎
  •  Japanese: 熟練‎ (じゅくれん, jukuren) (+ -な -na) , 上手‎ (じょうず, jōzu) (+ -な -na)
  •  Dutch: geoefend‎, competent‎, bekwaam‎
  •  Finnish: taitava‎; sujuva‎ (of language)
  •  Italian: competente‎, esperto‎, proficuo‎
  •  Portuguese: proficiente‎, competente‎, perito‎
  •  Catalan: perit‎, capaç‎, versat‎
  •  Tagalog: dalubhasa‎
  •  German: tüchtig‎, fähig‎, kompetent‎, befähigt‎, bewandert‎, erfahren‎, sachkundig‎, geübt‎, geschickt‎
  •  Turkish: becerikli‎, ehliyetli‎, kabiliyetli‎, mahir‎, mütehassıs‎, usta‎, uzman‎, yeterli‎
  •  Russian: уме́лый‎, иску́сный‎, компете́нтный‎
  •  Manx: aghtal‎

What is the origin of the word proficient?

According to Etymonline, the word proficient has been used since the 1580s and comes from the Old French proficient, a 15c word. This comes from the Latin proficientem, Latin proficiens, and the Latin prōficient. These are from Proto-Indo-European roots.

How can the word proficient be used in a sentence?

The word proficient can be used in many different sentences in the English language. Using words in a sentence is a great way to remember their definitions. You can also try to make flashcards or quizzes for yourself to test your knowledge. Try using this word of the day in a sentence today! Below are a few different examples of the word proficient to get you started. 

She had an advanced degree of competence and the technical dazzle of her dancing was proficient enough to move her to the second round of the auditions. 

The good mechanic not only did an expert job at the technical innovation, but was proficient at many handicrafts as well. She was a practiced marksman, adept juggler, brushwork artist and skillful composer.

Joshua Stamper had the individual dexterity of skillful retouching and was proficient at many aspects of Photoshop. His extraordinary proficiency made him in high demand. 

It was human nature that Jim wanted to be proficient at flag football in favour of the team, but their skills had considerable advancements in football and volleyball, so Jim was the  beer man instead.

In a nutshell, scholars in the specified area of study made considerable acquirements and achievements in higher education, and the vast majority of these students excelled at the proficiency standards and proficiency levels in a number of states’ boards due to their great knowledge.

It takes patience to become proficient at the Chinese language as a complete novice, just as it takes practice and a bit of ambidexterity to use chopsticks.

What are synonyms and antonyms of proficient?

There are many different words that a person can use in place of the word proficient. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same definition as another given word or phrase. Synonyms are a great way to expand your English language vocabulary and avoid repeating yourself. This list of synonyms for the word proficient is provided by Power Thesaurus

  •  facile
  •  sharp
  •  expert
  •  well-qualified
  •  maven
  •  clever
  •  productive
  •  flawless
  •  professional
  •  finished
  •  no slouch
  •  veteran
  •  knowledgeable
  •  neat
  •  exercised
  •  suited
  •  slick
  •  brilliant
  •  ingenious
  •  deft
  •  faultless
  •  able
  •  qualified
  •  dab hand
  •  accomplished
  •  crack
  •  businesslike
  •  complete
  •  perfect
  •  capable
  •  connoisseur
  •  skilful
  •  fitted
  •  dextrous
  •  apt
  •  well-versed
  •  crackerjack
  •  trained
  •  competent
  •  practiced
  •  know the answers
  •  efficient
  •  conversant
  •  hand at
  •  superb
  •  virtuoso
  •  great
  •  shark
  •  multiskilled
  •  pro
  •  adept
  •  polished
  •  fit
  •  seasoned
  •  masterful
  •  ablest
  •  skillful
  •  handy
  •  skilled
  •  adroit
  •  authority
  •  mean
  •  gifted
  •  specialist
  •  technical
  •  masterly
  •  effective
  •  master
  •  practised
  •  ace
  •  artistic
  •  talented
  •  nifty
  •  au fait
  •  wicked
  •  past master
  •  being a pistol
  •  consummate
  •  wizard
  •  there
  •  excellent
  •  effectual
  •  genius
  •  nimble
  •  know stuff
  •  artiste
  •  versed
  •  ready
  •  experienced
  •  cunning
  •  adequate
  •  dexterous
  •  up to speed
  •  first-rate
  •  on the ball
  •  good

There are also many different words that have the opposite meaning as the word proficient. These opposite words are called antonyms, which are opposite words to synonyms. These words contain the opposite meaning of a given word or phrase. This list of antonyms for the word proficient is also provided by Power Thesaurus

  •  ineffective
  •  inefficient
  •  substandard
  •  unsophisticated
  •  bungling
  •  half-assed
  •  heavy-handed
  •  gawky
  •  disorganised person
  •  not good
  •  maladroit
  •  inexpert
  •  unfit
  •  unskilful
  •  untrained
  •  sloppy
  •  slipshod
  •  unskilled
  •  bumbling
  •  imperfect
  •  all fingers and thumbs
  •  ungraceful
  •  inexperienced
  •  inept
  •  poor
  •  lumbering
  •  incapable
  •  bad
  •  green
  •  unable
  •  crude
  •  ungainly
  •  inelegant
  •  ham-fisted
  •  amateur
  •  gauche
  •  lubberly
  •  graceless
  •  unskillful
  •  amateurish
  •  uncoordinated
  •  unprofessional
  •  inferior
  •  awkward
  •  clumsy
  •  ham-handed
  •  incompetent

Overall, the word proficient means adept or skilled. This word is of French and Latin origins. 


  1. proficient | Origin and meaning of proficient | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  2. Proficient definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary
  3. proficient: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense  
  4. Proficient Synonyms | Power Thesaurus
  5. Proficient antonyms – 590 Opposites of Proficient | Power Thesaurus