the quality of being competent; adequacy; possession of required skill, knowledge, qualification, or capacity: He hired her because of her competence as an accountant.
sufficiency; a sufficient quantity.
an income sufficient to furnish the necessities and modest comforts of life.
Law. (of a witness, a party to a contract, etc.) legal capacity or qualification based on the meeting of certain minimum requirements of age, soundness of mind, citizenship, or the like.
Embryology. the sum total of possible developmental responses of any group of blastemic cells under varied external conditions.
Linguistics. the implicit, internalized knowledge of a language that a speaker possesses and that enables the speaker to produce and understand the language. Compare performance ( def 8 ).
Immunology, immunocompetence.
Geology. the ability of a fluid medium, as a stream or the wind, to move and carry particulate matter, measured by the size or weight of the largest particle that can be transported.

1585–95; compet(ent) + -ence Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
competence (ˈkɒmpɪtəns)
1.  the condition of being capable; ability
2.  a sufficient income to live on
3.  the state of being legally competent or qualified
4.  embryol the ability of embryonic tissues to react to external conditions in a way that influences subsequent development
5.  linguistics performance langue Compare parole (in transformational grammar) the form of the human language faculty, independent of its psychological embodiment in actual human beings

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

1632, "sufficiency of means for living at ease," from Fr. compétence, from L. competentia "meeting together, agreement, symmetry," from competens, prp. of competere (see compete). Meaning "sufficiency to deal with what is at hand" is from 1790.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

competence com·pe·tence (kŏm'pĭ-təns)

  1. The quality of being competent or capable of performing an allotted function.

  2. The quality or condition of being legally qualified to perform an act.

  3. The mental ability to distinguish right from wrong and to manage one's own affairs.

  4. The ability of a cell, especially a bacterial cell, to be genetically transformable.

  5. The ability to respond immunologically to viruses or other antigenic agents.

  6. Integrity, especially the normal tight closure of a cardiac valve.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
competence   (kŏm'pĭ-təns)  Pronunciation Key 
  1. The ability of bacteria to be undergo genetic transformation.

  2. The ability to respond immunologically to an antigen, as in an immune cell responding to a virus.

  3. The ability to function normally because of structural integrity, as in a heart valve.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
Online courses require a tremendous amount of self-discipline and no small
  amount of academic ability and technical competence.
There are plenty of things that matter more than competence, such as the
  ability to project drive and self-confidence.
Competence was measured in the length and complexity of a recipe, not in one's
  ability to crank out five easy suppers.
Strength and competence blends with beauty to qualify the included heroines.
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