New Member

how would you call the company which is functioning in a given place for a long time and somehow is'setting rules in a certain territory' and has power. Not necessary the only one though - so no monopoly. I mean a noun. Incumbent is right?

Thanks a million!
  • PaulQ

    English - England
    No, incumbent = the holder of an office: "The incumbent was challenged by a young candidate."

    The noun you want is much dependent upon the context. Is the company big?

    One word is an oligarchy; this noun is often used to decribe the very large companies in Russia that control fuel, steel, etc. and are headed by one man (and may be a few friends.)


    No, incumbent = the holder of an office: "The incumbent was challenged by a young candidate."
    Only a couple of weeks ago, I hit upon an article in McKinsey Quarterly titled "Transforming a fixed-line incumbent: An interview with Telekom Malaysia's CTO"
    In the interview, the CTO mentions "In the past few years, the company has been transitioning from its position as an incumbent operator to a player in a very competitive environment."

    It was the first time I had seen incumbent used other than as "the holder of an office" as PaulQ mentioned and looking up in Oxford dictionary I found the following definition:[attributive] (of a company) having a sizeable share of a market: powerful incumbent airlines

    I had therefore assumed it was a common way to use incumbent.
    Isn't this use that common among native English speakers? Would it be risky to use it in this sense in correspondence or writings?
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    English - Jamaica and Canada
    Hi trimple,

    This is very late in coming but you should not use that in regular correspondence.

    You will have difficulty finding that meaning. It is not even in the dictionary (I was searching for it myself). That few people are familiar with that meaning should be obvious just from searching the word in the wordreference forum.

    Consider this meaning to be technical jargon. I suspect that it is mostly used in the economic and regulatory field. For example, the OECD will use the word (as adjective and noun) in this sense. And you will see in well-written articles reference to incumbent telecoms and telcos.
    I also find strange that this term is spreading in the economic sense of "company in a dominant position". The only situation in which I was used to hear this term really used was in the sense of person in office, but almost exclusively when new election were imminent. I was not used to hear this term very much commonly used with its other meanings, before this incumbent company spree in economic and managerial articles and essays.


    English - England
    There is a rare use: OED
    incumbent, adj. a. That lies, leans, rests, or presses with its weight upon something else.

    1781 Gibbon Decline & Fall III. xxx. 161 The nations..must have pressed with incumbent weight on the confines of Germany.
    1851 C. Merivale Hist. Romans under Empire III. xxvi. 212 All support was withdrawn, and the incumbent mass of the conquerors rushed headlong over the bodies of their adversaries.
    that, with a little imagination, could cover the example.

    That said, the word is strongly associated with the meanings given by other posters and is, to me at least confusing.

    As an aside, I was once told "Extrude him from the building!" A strange image as to extrude is usually used in its sense of "to shape (metals, plastics, etc.) by forcing them through dies."
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