incumbent

An incumbent is an official who holds an office. If you want to run for congress, you're going to have to beat the incumbent.

Incumbent comes from the Latin word incumbens, which means lying in or leaning on, but came to mean holding a position. It was first used in English for someone holding a church office, and then someone holding any office. You'll most likely hear it today for political officials. In a race for mayor, the incumbent mayor faces a challenger. Incumbent also means obligation. It is incumbent upon you to do the dishes.

Primary Meanings of incumbent

1.
adj
necessary (for someone) as a duty or responsibility; morally binding
2.
adjn
currently holding an office
the official who holds an office
3.
adj
lying or leaning on something else
Full Definitions of incumbent
1

adj necessary (for someone) as a duty or responsibility; morally binding

“it is incumbent on them to pay their own debts”
Synonyms:
necessary
absolutely essential
2

adj currently holding an office

“the incumbent governor”
Synonyms:
current
occurring in or belonging to the present time

n the official who holds an office

Synonyms:
officeholder
Types:
office-bearer
the person who holds an office
Type of:
holder
a person who holds something
functionary, official
a worker who holds or is invested with an office
3

adj lying or leaning on something else

“an incumbent geological formation”
Synonyms:
superjacent
lying immediately above or on something else

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