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1590s, "rivalry" (based on compete); c.1600 "adequate supply;" 1630s, "sufficiency of means for living at ease," from French compétence, from Latin competentia "meeting together, agreement, symmetry," from competens, present participle of competere, especially in its earlier sense of "fall together, come together, be convenient or fitting" (see compete). Meaning "sufficiency to deal with what is at hand" is from 1790.
competence com·pe·tence (kŏm'pĭ-təns)
The quality of being competent or capable of performing an allotted function.
The quality or condition of being legally qualified to perform an act.
The mental ability to distinguish right from wrong and to manage one's own affairs.
The ability of a cell, especially a bacterial cell, to be genetically transformable.
The ability to respond immunologically to viruses or other antigenic agents.
Integrity, especially the normal tight closure of a cardiac valve.