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noun au·thor·i·ty \ə-ˈthär-ə-tē, ȯ-, -ˈthȯr-\

Simple Definition of authority

  • : the power to give orders or make decisions : the power or right to direct or control someone or something

  • : the confident quality of someone who knows a lot about something or who is respected or obeyed by other people

  • : a quality that makes something seem true or real

Full Definition of authority

plural au·thor·i·ties

  1. 1 a (1) :  a citation (as from a book or file) used in defense or support (2) :  the source from which the citation is drawn b (1) :  a conclusive statement or set of statements (as an official decision of a court) (2) :  a decision taken as a precedent (3) :  testimony c :  an individual cited or appealed to as an expert

  2. 2 a :  power to influence or command thought, opinion, or behavior b :  freedom granted by one in authority :  right

  3. 3 a :  persons in command; specifically :  government b :  a governmental agency or corporation to administer a revenue-producing public enterprise <the transit authority>

  4. 4 a :  grounds, warrant <had excellent authority for believing the claim> b :  convincing force <lent authority to the performance>

Examples of authority

  1. The boss is not popular but his authority is unquestioned.

  2. She has an air of authority.

  3. Her southern accent lent authority to her performance.

  4. We reported the incident to hospital authorities.

  5. Local authorities are investigating the accident.

Origin of authority

Middle English auctorite, from Anglo-French auctorité, from Latin auctoritat-, auctoritas opinion, decision, power, from auctor

First Known Use: 13th century

Synonym Discussion of authority

influence, authority, prestige, weight, credit mean power exerted over the minds or behavior of others. influence may apply to a force exercised and received consciously or unconsciously <used her influence to get the bill passed>. authority implies the power of winning devotion or allegiance or of compelling acceptance and belief <his opinions lacked authority>. prestige implies the ascendancy given by conspicuous excellence or reputation for superiority <the prestige of the newspaper>. weight implies measurable or decisive influence in determining acts or choices <their wishes obviously carried much weight>. credit suggests influence that arises from the confidence of others <his credit with the press>.

power, authority, jurisdiction, control, command, sway, dominion mean the right to govern or rule or determine. power implies possession of ability to wield force, authority, or influence <the power to mold public opinion>. authority implies power for a specific purpose within specified limits <granted the authority to manage her estate>. jurisdiction applies to official power exercised within prescribed limits <the bureau having jurisdiction over parks>. control stresses the power to direct and restrain <you are responsible for the students under your control>. command implies the power to make arbitrary decisions and compel obedience <the army officer in command>. sway suggests the extent of exercised power or influence <the empire extended its sway over the region>. dominion stresses sovereign power or supreme authority <given dominion over all the animals>.

power, force, energy, strength, might mean the ability to exert effort. power may imply latent or exerted physical, mental, or spiritual ability to act or be acted upon <the awesome power of flowing water>. force implies the actual effective exercise of power <used enough force to push the door open>. energy applies to power expended or capable of being transformed into work <a worker with boundless energy>. strength applies to the quality or property of a person or thing that makes possible the exertion of force or the withstanding of strain, pressure, or attack <use weight training to build your strength>. might implies great or overwhelming power or strength <the belief that might makes right>.

Rhymes with authority

AUTHORITY Defined for Kids


noun au·thor·i·ty \ə-ˈthȯr-ə-tē\

Definition of authority

plural au·thor·i·ties

  1. 1 :  power to exercise control

  2. 2 :  a person looked to as an expert <She's a leading authority on fitness.>

  3. 3 :  people having powers to make decisions and enforce rules and laws <State authorities are investigating the disputed election.>

  4. 4 :  a fact or statement used to support a position <What is your authority for this argument?>

Seen and Heard

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February 12, 2016

of, relating to, or suggestive of marble

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