holding an indicated position, role, office, etc., currently:
the incumbent officers of the club.
obligatory (often followed by on or upon):
a duty incumbent upon me.
Archaic. resting, lying, leaning, or pressing on something:
incumbent upon the cool grass.
the holder of an office:
The incumbent was challenged by a fusion candidate.
British. a person who holds an ecclesiastical benefice.
Contemporary Examples

As incumbent, Duncan is in a position to make handshake deals and remind the national committee of old debts.
The Race to Run the GOP Gets Even More Ridiculous Ana Marie Cox January 5, 2009

There was no way an incumbent president sitting on these kinds of economic figures could possibly be reelected.
Michael Tomasky on What Will Happen When Romney Gets Desperate Michael Tomasky September 10, 2012

incumbent President Thein Sein sat and watched the band stage-side, while a crowd danced and thumped behind gun-toting soldiers.
Burma’s First Girl Band Pushes Boundaries Heidi Mitchell April 4, 2012

And although Al Gore was not the president, he was the incumbent vice president and had the same problem in 2000.
Brett O’Donnell: What to Watch For in the Town-Hall Debate Brett O’Donnell October 15, 2012

Could incumbent Republicans end up being the key opponents to the spreading influence of dark money?
The Independent Rundown, October 23 Matthew DeLuca October 22, 2012

Historical Examples

And there’s nothing more you feel it incumbent upon you to do for me?
Red Pepper Burns Grace S. Richmond

And now he was once more seated close to her, and it was incumbent on him to speak to her.
Is He Popenjoy? Anthony Trollope

Much as he disliked the necessity, it was incumbent on him to perform an autopsy.
The Woman from Outside Hulbert Footner

He had lived as an aristocrat—it was incumbent on him, he said, not to shirk death as one.
The False Chevalier William Douw Lighthall

Of this office he was the first incumbent, no Court of Queen’s Bench having previously existed there.
The Canadian Portrait Gallery Volume 3 John Charles Dent

(formal) often postpositive and foll by on or upon and an infinitive. morally binding or necessary; obligatory: it is incumbent on me to attend
usually postpositive and foll by on. resting or lying (on)
a person who holds an office, esp a clergyman holding a benefice

early 15c., “person holding a church position,” from Medieval Latin incumbentem (nominative incumbens) “holder of a church position,” noun use of present participle of incumbere “to obtain or possess,” from Latin incumbere “recline on,” figuratively “apply oneself to,” from in- “on” (see in- (2)) + -cumbere “lie down,” related to cubare “to lie” (see cubicle). Extended to holders of any office from 1670s.

1560s, in relation to duties or obligations, from Latin incumbentem (nominative incumbens), present participle of incumbere (see incumbent (n.)). The literal, physical sense is rare in English and first attested 1620s.
incumbent [(in-kum-buhnt)]

One who holds a public office. By virtue of their experience in office, their exposure to the public, and their ability to raise campaign funds, incumbents usually have a significant advantage over opponents if they choose to run for reelection.


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