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

Trump has long questioned the findings of intelligence agencies, suggesting alternate scenarios for who might have carried out the hacking campaigns. BostonGlobe.com, "12 Russian agents indicted in Mueller inquiry," 14 July 2018 Every viable civilian oversight agency has had to fight for their own independence. Jessica Anderson, baltimoresun.com, "Panel reviewing police civilian oversight calls for more powerful 'independent police accountability agency'," 13 July 2018 Figures by Egypt's official statistics agency show that 1,793 train accidents took place in 2017. Fox News, "Train derails in Egypt, 55 injured," 13 July 2018 The agencies that received packages included the CIA, Secret Service, Dahlgren Naval Base in Virginia, the National Security Agency and FBI headquarters. Martha Bellisle, Fox News, "Judge finds man accused of mailing explosives incompetent," 13 July 2018 The indictment’s extraordinary details may raise pointed questions about actions taken and not taken by American intelligence agencies and the Obama administration as the Russian campaign unfolded. Mark Mazzetti, New York Times, "12 Russian Agents Indicted in Mueller Investigation," 13 July 2018 But Lanier during the trial told jurors that the agency and other laboratories and J&J have used flawed testing methods that did not allow for the proper detection of asbestos fibers. NBC News, "Johnson & Johnson told to pay $4.7 billion in baby powder case," 13 July 2018 About 7,500 youth were employed by non-profits, city agencies and other private sector groups through the program last summer. Talia Richman, baltimoresun.com, "Baltimore's Youthworks program paid some people for work they didn't do, audit finds," 11 July 2018 Firefighters arrived from surrounding agencies and the man was taken via the South Milwaukee rescue boat to the South Shore Yacht Club. Erik S. Hanley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Man who fell off cliff in Cudahy told police he fell asleep near the edge," 11 July 2018

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

6 Oct 2018

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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Comments on agency

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