agency

noun
agen·​cy | \ ˈā-jən(t)-sē \
plural agencies

Definition of agency

1a : the office or function of an agent (see agent sense 4)
b : the relationship between a principal and that person's agent
2 : the capacity, condition, or state of acting or of exerting power : operation
3 : a person or thing through which power is exerted or an end is achieved : instrumentality communicated through the agency of the ambassador
4 : an establishment engaged in doing business for another an advertising agency
5 : an administrative division (as of a government) the agency for consumer protection

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Examples of agency in a Sentence

the federal agency in charge of printing money the federal agency charged with enforcing laws and regulations regarding the use of firearms

Recent Examples on the Web

The agency that later facilitated Jen and Sarah's adoption of the Davis siblings closed in 2011, but at the time it was known as the Permanent Family Resource Center. Glamour, "Broken Harts, Episode 6: "Beautiful Black Boys"," 15 Jan. 2019 Its sister lending agency, the International Monetary Fund, has always been headed by a European. Martin Crutsinger, The Seattle Times, "World Bank President Jim Yong Kim announces his departure," 8 Jan. 2019 Your local law enforcement agency may also host periodic collection days. Alissa Katz, Good Housekeeping, "How to Dispose of Everything, Including Old Cell Phones, Mattresses, and Batteries," 8 Jan. 2019 First, a realtor will have no problem providing their business card, agency name, and license number. Sara Rodrigues, House Beautiful, "The LAPD Has Caught The Man Who Posed As A Realtor To Rob Celeb Homes," 4 Jan. 2019 Late last week, as the country was focusing on antacids and shopping, the Trump administration released a report on climate change prepared by its own scientific agencies. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Trump administration organizes pushback against its own climate report," 3 Dec. 2018 Houston, Dallas, and Tampa transit agencies will also offer free rides, many just requiring a voter ID card before boarding. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Free rides to the polls test the transit and turnout connection," 1 Nov. 2018 The lander was carrying four experiments: the MASCAM camera and a radiometer, both made by the DLR; a magnetometer built by the Technical University of Braunschweig; and an infrared spectrometer made by the French space agency, CNES. Megan Gannon, Space.com, "'Crazy' Rocky Surface of Asteroid Ryugu Revealed in MASCOT Lander Images," 13 Oct. 2018 The partial shutdown has also furloughed staff at other agencies such as the Treasury Department who are involved with implementing or setting policy related to the ACA. WSJ, "Shutdown Poses Risk to Health Care," 23 Jan. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'agency.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of agency

1640, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for agency

ag(ent) + -ency, perhaps after Medieval Latin agentia, derivative of agent-, agens agent

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Statistics for agency

Last Updated

10 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for agency

The first known use of agency was in 1640

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More Definitions for agency

agency

noun

English Language Learners Definition of agency

: a business that provides a particular service
: a government department that is responsible for a particular activity, area, etc.

agency

noun
agen·​cy | \ ˈā-jən-sē \
plural agencies

Kids Definition of agency

1 : a person or thing through which power is used or something is achieved Through the agency of his former school, he reunited with some old friends.
2 : a business that provides a particular service an advertising agency
3 : a part of a government that is responsible for providing a particular service or performing a specific function law enforcement agencies

agency

noun
agen·​cy
plural agencies

Legal Definition of agency

1 : the person or thing through which power is exerted or an end is achieved death by criminal agency— W. R. LaFave and A. W. Scott, Jr.
2a : a consensual fiduciary relationship in which one party acts on behalf of and under the control of another in dealing with third parties also : the power of one in such a relationship to act on behalf of another

Note: A principal is bound by and liable for acts of his or her agent that are within the scope of the agency.

actual agency
: the agency that exists when an agent is in fact employed by a principal — see also express agency and implied agency in this entry
agency by estoppel
: an agency that is not created as an actual agency by a principal and an agent but that is imposed by law when a principal acts in such a way as to lead a third party to reasonably believe that another is the principal's agent and the third party is injured by relying on and acting in accordance with that belief

Note: A principal has a duty to correct a third party's mistaken belief in an agent's authority to act on the principal's behalf. If the principal could have corrected the misunderstanding but failed to do so, he or she is estopped from denying the existence of the agency and is bound by the agent's acts in dealing with the third party.

agency coupled with an interest
: an agency in which the agent has an interest in the property regarding which he or she is acting on the principal's behalf
apparent agency
: agency by estoppel in this entry
exclusive agency
: an agency common in real estate sales in which the property owner agrees to employ no agents to sell the property other than the one hired for a specified period
express agency
: an actual agency created by the written or spoken words of the principal authorizing the agent to act — compare implied agency in this entry
general agency
: an agency in which the agent is authorized to perform on behalf of the principal in all matters in furtherance of a particular business of the principal — compare special agency in this entry
implied agency
: an actual agency created by acts of a principal that reasonably imply an intention to create an agency relationship — compare express agency in this entry
ostensible agency
: agency by estoppel in this entry
special agency
: an agency in which the agent is authorized to perform only specified acts or to act only in a specified transaction — compare general agency in this entry
universal agency
: general agency in this entry
b : the office and function of an agent even when granted discretion in carrying out his agency— R. C. Clark
c : the law concerned with the relationship of a principal and an agent
3 : an establishment engaged in doing the business of another: as
a : an establishment authorized by an insurance company to sell insurance policies and provide services offered by the insurer
b : an establishment authorized by property owners to find a buyer for their property

Note: Many businesses that use the term agency are not truly agencies as defined in sense 2.

4 : a department or other unit of government created by legislation to administer the law in a particular area of public concern

called also administrative agency

— see also enabling statute, exhaustion of remedies, Administrative Procedure Act

Note: When a legislature determines that government involvement is needed in a particular social activity or problem, it may write legislation creating an agency either directly or by authorizing the executive to set it up. Agencies exist at the federal, state, and local levels. Most federal agencies are attached to the executive branch of government. Some agencies (such as the Environmental Protection Agency) are called an agency. An agency may, however, be called such other names as board (as the National Labor Relations Board), commission (as the Securities and Exchange Commission), administration (as the Social Security Administration), and service (as the Internal Revenue Service). Agencies at the federal level are governed by the provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act, which is found at title 5 of the U.S. Code.

independent agency
: an agency that is not part of any of the three branches of government
regulatory agency
: an agency that is authorized by the legislature to establish and enforce rules regulating its particular area of concern often used interchangeably with agency or administrative agency

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