If you are competent, you have the necessary ability or skills to do something. If you can carry a heavy tray of food and store a table's worth of orders in your head, you are probably a competent waiter.

The opposite of competent is incompetent — an incompetent travel agent might send you to Bahrain when you requested Britain. But competent on its own can sometimes be a veiled criticism, with the implication that someone competent is just going to through the motions — you'd rather have someone inspired on the job. In legal language, competent describes someone who has the mental capacity to take part in a trial or sign a contract.

Definitions of competent
  1. adjective
    properly or sufficiently qualified or capable or efficient
    “a competent typist”
    (usually followed by `of') having capacity or ability
    able, capable
    have the skills and qualifications to do things well
    effective, efficient
    able to accomplish a purpose; functioning effectively
    worthy of a good workman
    being effective without wasting time or effort or expense
    meeting the proper standards and requirements and training for an office or position or task
    having or showing or requiring special skill
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    not qualified or suited for a purpose
    feckless, inept
    generally incompetent and ineffectual
    ineffective, inefficient
    lacking the ability or skill to perform effectively; inadequate
    not characteristic of or suitable for a good workman
    not producing desired results; wasteful
    not meeting the proper standards and requirements and training
    not having or showing or requiring special skill or proficiency
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  2. adjective
    legally qualified or sufficient
    “a competent court”
    competent testimony”
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    incompetent, unqualified
    legally not qualified or sufficient
  3. adjective
    adequate for the purpose
    “a competent performance”
    adequate, equal
    having the requisite qualities or resources to meet a task
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