What do you call someone who is good at their job? For example: how would you describe an optometrist/ophthalmologist who is really good at what they do?

  • 2
    He is an excellent optometrist. He is a skilled ophthalmologist. She is a first-rate optometrist. She is really good at what she does (which is ophthalmology).
    – Hot Licks
    Jul 11, 2015 at 13:22
  • 4
    Competent is what you call anyone who is good at anything. Jul 11, 2015 at 16:31
  • @JohnLawler - But note that competent is often used sarcastically, or to indicate that the individual "meets minimum requirements" but little more.
    – Hot Licks
    Jul 11, 2015 at 17:44
  • 1
    It's subject to Gricean interpretation; i.e, if the best thing you can truthfully say is "competent", it must not be a glowing recommendation. But that applies to any non-superlative. Jul 11, 2015 at 20:21
  • How about 'top-drawer', 'top-notch', or these days, often simply 'top' (as in top model)
    – JHCL
    Sep 9, 2015 at 19:34

5 Answers 5


Expert—either as a noun:

  • A person who has a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of or skill in a particular area [ODO]

  • a person who has special skill or knowledge relating to a particular subject [M-E]

Or as an adjective:

  • Having or involving authoritative knowledge [ODO]

  • having or showing special skill or knowledge because of what you have been taught or what you have experienced [M-E]


A couple of mildly informal adjectives for describing exceptional competence are crack and crackerjack:

crack (adj.)

  1. Highly trained and competent. Even a crack team of investigators would have trouble solving this case.
    1. Excellent, first-rate, superior, top-notch. She's a crack shot with that rifle.


crackerjack (adj.)

  1. Exceptionally fine or excellent; top-notch; high quality.
    1. Expert, top-rated or high-performing.


An example from an Ngram search:

I had an able staff in the District of Columbia Committee and with personnel like Mr. Malone, who came to us from the city government, and there was a crackerjack lawyer who was completely devoted to doing his job in the District.

(Department of the Interior and related agencies appropriations for fiscal year 1970: Hearings before a subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations, United States Senate, Ninety-first Congress, first session, on H.R. 12781, Part 1)


A "Master". Especially for trades.

Master Goldsmith.

Master Coder.

  • Hello, Your answer was automatically flagged as low-quality for its length and content. The word master can have many different meanings. Can you expand your answer to cite a dictionary definition or example sentences?
    – user140086
    Jul 17, 2016 at 11:55

Professional is an appropriate way to refer to someone who is very competent in his job:

  • Worthy of or appropriate to a professional person; competent, skilful, or assured:

    • his professional expertise their music is both memorable and professional


  • a very professional optometrist/ophthalmologist.
  • Yes, but it chiefly signifies that the activity is a paid one, and secondarily it is largely a class signifier. Jul 11, 2015 at 13:42

"Proficient" is defined by Merriam-Webster as "good at doing something", and "well advanced in an art, occupation, or branch of knowledge".

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