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[dih-fish-uh nt] /dɪˈfɪʃ ənt/
lacking some element or characteristic; defective:
deficient in taste.
insufficient; inadequate:
deficient knowledge.
a person who is deficient, especially one who is mentally defective.
Origin of deficient
1575-85; < Latin dēficient- (stem of dēficiēns, present participle of dēficere to fail, run short, lack, weaken), equivalent to dē- de- + fic-, combining form of facere to make, do1 + thematic -i- + -ent- -ent
Related forms
deficiently, adverb
nondeficient, adjective
nondeficiently, adverb
predeficient, adjective
predeficiently, adverb
undeficient, adjective
undeficiently, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for deficient
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Like a physician, he should find the weak and deficient parts and build them up.

    Piano Mastery Harriette Brower
  • Sometimes he is sure she is deficient in understanding, and at others that her temper only is in fault.

    Lady Susan Jane Austen
  • And she admitted to herself that the mind of a woman was deficient when she failed to do justice to these performances.

    Peter and Jane S. (Sarah) Macnaughtan
  • By that good lady the Houris are said to be held in deficient esteem.

    The Devil's Dictionary Ambrose Bierce
  • The inn was of a piece with all those at which we lodged in Dauphiné, deficient in everything for which an inn exists.

  • Not to be deficient in interest, Clennam asked what he might be doing there?

    Little Dorrit Charles Dickens
  • I confess that most of "Marmion," as also of the "Lady of the Lake," is tame to me, and deficient in high poetic genius.

  • He was agreeable, too agreeable; he certainly had not bad manners, but he was deficient in tact.

    My Double Life Sarah Bernhardt
British Dictionary definitions for deficient


lacking some essential; incomplete; defective
inadequate in quantity or supply; insufficient
Derived Forms
deficiently, adverb
Word Origin
C16: from Latin dēficiēns lacking, from dēficere to fall short; see defect
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for deficient

1580s, from Latin deficientem (nominative deficiens), present participle of deficere "to desert, revolt, fail," from de- "down, away" (see de-) + facere "to do, perform" (see factitious).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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deficient in Medicine

deficient de·fi·cient (dĭ-fĭsh'ənt)

  1. Lacking an essential quality or element.

  2. Inadequate in amount or degree; insufficient.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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